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Cornell University Library 
BL 310.F84 1911 

The golden bough :a study In magic and r 

3 1924 021 515 089 

Cornell University 

The original of tiiis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 












J. G. FRAZER,,D.C.L., LL.D., Litt.D. 


2^ r^ 



191 I 

L.V.. (. Ok 1^12 I I 


" AD 


J.i .11^1 JUKI 


With this third part of The Golden Bough we take up the 
question, Why had the King of the Wood at Nemi regu- 
larly to perish by the hand of his successor ? In the first 
part of the work I gave some reasons for thinking that the 
priest of Diana, who bore the title of King of the Wood 
beside the still lake among the Alban Hills, personated the 
great god Jupiter or his duplicate Dianus, the deity of the 
oak, the thunder, and the sky. On this theory, accordingly, 
we are at once confronted with the wider and deeper ques- 
tion, Why put a man-god or human representative of deity 
to a violent death ? Why extinguish the divine light in its 
earthly vessel instead of husbanding it to its natural close ? 
My general answer to that question is contained in the 
present volume. If I am right, the motive for slaying a 
man-god is a fear lest with the enfeeblement of his body 
in sickness or old age his sacred spirit should suffer a 
corresponding decay, which might imperil the general course 
of nature and with it the existence of his worshippers, who 
believe the cosmic energies to be mysteriously knit up with 
those of their human divinity. Hence, if there is any 
measure of truth in this theory, the practice of putting divine 
men and particularly divine kings to death, which seems to 
have been common at a particular stage in the evolution 
of society and religion, was a crude but pathetic attempt to 
disengage an immortal spirit from its mortal envelope, to 
arrest the forces of decomposition in nature by retrenching 


with ruthless hand the first ominous symptoms of decay. 
We may smile if we please at the vanity of these and the 
like efforts to stay the inevitable decline, to bring the 
relentless revolution of the great wheel to a stand, to keep 
youth's fleeting roses for ever fresh and fair ; but perhaps 
in spite of every disillusionment, when we contemplate the 
seemingly endless vistas of knowledge which have been 
opened up even within our own generation, many of us may 
cherish in our heart of hearts a fancy, if not a hope, that 
some loophole of escape may after all be discovered from 
the iron walls of the prison-house which threaten to close on 
and crush us ; that, groping about in the darkness, mankind 
may yet chance to lay hands on "that golden key that opes 
the palace of eternity,'' and so to pass from this world of 
shadows and sorrow to a world of untroubled light and joy. 
If this is a dream, it is surely a happy and innocent one, 
and to those who would wake us from it we may murmur 
with Michael Angelo, 

" Perb non mi destar, deh / parla basso.'" 


wthjune 191 1. 


Chapter I. — The Mortality of the Gods . Pp. i-8 

Mortality of savage gods, pp. 1-3 ; mortality of Greek gods, 3 sq. ; mortality of 
Egyptian gods, 4-6 ; death of the Great Pan, 6 sq. ; deaths of the King 
of the Jinn and of the Grape-cluster, 8. 

Chapter II. — The Killing of the 

Divine King Pp. 9-1 19 

§ I. Preference for a Violent Death, pp. 9-14. — Human gods killed to prevent 
them from growing old and feeble, 9 sq. ; preference for a violent death, 
the sick and old killed, 10-14. 

§ 2. Kings killed when their Strength fails, pp. 14-46. — Divine kings put to 
death, the Chitom^ of Congo and the Ethiopian kings of Meroe, 14 
sq. ; kings of Fazoql on the Blue Nile, 16 sq. ; divine kings of the 
Shilluk put to death on any symptom of failing health, 17-28; parallel 
between the Shilluk kings and the King of the Wood at Nemi, 28 ; 
rain-makers of the Dinka not allowed to die a natural death, 28-33 > 
kings of Unyoro and other parts of Africa put to death on signs of failing 
health, 34 sq. ; the Matiamvo of Angola, 35 sq. ; Zulu kings killed on 
the approach of old age, 36 sq. ; kings of Sofala put to death on account 
of bodily blemishes, 37 sq. ; kings required to be unblemished, 38 sq. ; 
courtiers obliged to imitate their sovereign, 39 sq. ; kings of Eyeo put to 
death, 40 sq. ; voluntary death by fire of the old Prussian Kirwaido, 4 1 
sq. ; voluntary deaths by fire in antiquity and among Buddhist monks, 
42 sq. ; religious suicides in Russia, 43-45 ; a Jewish Messiah, 46. 

§ 3. Kings killed at the End of a Fixed Term, pp. 46-58. — Suicide of the kings 
of Quilacare at the end of a reign of twelve years, 46 sq. ; kings of 
Calicut liable to be attacked and killed by their successors at the end of 
every period of twelve years, 47-51 ; kings of Bengal and Passier and 
old Slavonic kings liable to be killed by their successors, 51 sq. ; custom 
of a five years' reign followed by decapitation in Malabar, 52 sq. ; custom 
of the Sultans of Java, 53 sq. ; religious suicides in India, 54-56 ; kings 



killed by proxy, 56 sq. ; Ann, King of Sweden, and the sacrifice of his 
nine sons to prolong his life, 57 sq, 

§ 4. Octennial Tenure of the Kingship, pp. 58-92. — Spartan kings liable to be 
deposed on the appearance of a meteor at the end of eight years, ^% sq.% 
superstitions as to meteors and stars, 59-68 ; octennial period of king's 
reign connected with the octennial cycle of the early Greek calendars, 
which in turn is an attempt to reconcile solar and lunar time, 68 sq. ; 
the octennial cycle in relation to the Greek doctrine of rebirth, 69 sq. ; 
octennial tenure of the kingdom at Cnossus in Crete, 70 sq. ; sacred 
marriage of the King and Queen of Cnossus (Minos and Pasiphae) as 
representatives of the Sun and Moon, 71-74; octennial tribute of youths 
and maidens to the Sun, represented by the Minotaur, at Cnossus, 74-77 ; 
octennial festivals of the Crowning at Delphi and of the Laurel-bearing 
at Thebes, both being dramatic representations of the slaying of a water- 
dragon, 78-82 ; theory that the dragons of Delphi and Thebes were 
kings who personated dragons or serpents, 82 ; Greek belief in the 
transformation of gods and men into animals, 82 sq. ; transformation of 
Cadmus and Harmonia into serpents, 84 ; transmigration of the souls of 
the dead into serpents and other wild animals, 84 sq. ; African kings 
claim kinship with powerful animals, 85 sq. ; the serpent the royal 
animal at Athens and Salamis, 87 sq. ; the wedding of Cadmus and 
Harmonia at Thebes perhaps a dramatic marriage of the Sun and Moon 
at the end of an eight years' cycle, 87 sq. ; this theory confirmed by the 
astronomical symbols carried by the Laurel-bearer at the octennial festival 
of Laurel-bearing, 88 sq, ; the Olympic festival based on the octennial 
cycle, 89 sq. ; the Olympic victors, male and female, perhaps personated 
the Sun and Moon and reigned as divine King and Queen for eight 
years, 90-92. 

§ 5. Funeral Games, pp. 92-105. — Tradition of the funeral origin of the great 
Greek games, 92 sq. ; in historical times games instituted in honour of 
many famous men in Greece, 93-96 ; funeral games celebrated by other 
peoples ancient and modern, 96-98 ; the great Irish fairs, in which horse- 
races were conspicuous, said to have been founded in honour of the 
dead, 98-101 ; their relation to the harvest, 101-103 J theory of the 
funeral origin of the Olympic games insufficient to explain all the 
features of the legends, 103 sq. \ suggested theory of the origin of the 
Olympic games, 104 sq, ; the Olympic festival based on astronomical, 
not agricultural, considerations, 105. 

§6. The Slaughter of the Dragon, pp. 105-112. — Widespread myth of the 
slaughter of a great dragon, 105 ; Babylonian myth of Marduk and 
Tiamat, 105 sq, ; Indian myth of Indra and Vrtra, 106 sq. ; two inter- 
pretations of the myth, one cosmological, the other totemic, 107-111' 
suggested reconciliation of the two interpretations, ill sq. 

§ 7. Triennial Tenure of the Kingship, pp. 112 sq. — Chiefs of the Remon 
branch of the Ijebu tribe formerly killed at the end of a reign of three 
years, 112 sq. 


i 8. Annual Tenure of the Kingship, pp. 1 1 3- 1 1 8. — The Sacaea festival 
(possibly identical with Zakmuk) at Babylon seems to shew that in early 
times I the Babylonian kings were put to death at the end of a year's 
reign, 113-117 ; trace of a custom of killing the kings of Hawaii at the 
end of a year's reign, 117 sq. 

j 9. Diurnal Tenure of the Kingship, pp. n8 sq. — Custom of putting the king 
of Ngoio to death on the night after his coronation, 118 sq. 

Chapter III. — The Slaying of the 

King in Legend .... Pp. 120-133 

Story of Lancelot and the profiered kingdom in the High History of the Holy 
Graal, 120-122; story of King Vikramaditya of Ujjain in India, 122- 
124; Vikramaditya the son of an ass by a human mother, 124 sq. ; 
stories of this type (Beauty and the Beast) probably based on totemism, 
125-131 ; story of the parentage of Vikramaditya points to a line of 
rajahs who had the ass for their crest, 132 ; similarly the maharajahs of 
Nagpur trace their descent from a cobra father and have the cobra for 
their crest, 132 sq. 

Chapter IV. — The Supply of Kings . Pp. 134-147 

Traces in legend of a custom of compelling men to accept the fatal sovereignty, 
134 sq. ; false conceptions of the primitive kingship, 13S ; the modern 
European fear of death not shared in an equal degree by other races, 135- 
139 ; men of other races willing to sacrifice their lives for motives 
which seem to the modern European wholly inadequate, 139 sqq. ; 
indifference to death displayed in antiquity by the Thracians, Gauls, and 
Romans, and in modern times by the Chinese, 142-146 ; error of judging 
all men's fear of death by our own, 146 ; probability that in many races 
it would be easy to find men who would accept a kingdom on condition 
of being killed at the end of a short reign, 146 sq. 

Chapter V. — Temporary Kings . . Pp. 148-159 

Annual abdication of kings and their places temporarily filled by nominal 
sovereigns, 148; temporary kings in Cambodia and Siam, 148-151 ; 
temporary kings in Samarcand and Upper Egypt, 151 sq. ; 
temporary sultans of Morocco, 152 sq. ; temporary king in Cornwall, 
I S3 ^9- ' temporary kings at the beginning of a reign in Sumatra and 
India, 154; temporary kings entrusted with the discharge of divine or 
magical functions, 155-157 ; temporary kings substituted in special 
emergencies for Shahs of Persia, 157-159. 


Chapter VI. — Sacrifice of the King's 

Son Pp. 160-19S 

Temporary kings sometimes related by blood to the royal family, 161 ; Aun, 
King of Sweden, and the sacrifice of his nine sons, 160 sq. ; tradition of 
King Athamas and his children, 161-163 ; family of royal descent liable 
to be sacrificed at Orchomenus, 163 sq. ; Thessalian and Boeotian kings 
seem to have sacrificed their sons instead of themselves, 164-166; sacri- 
fice of king's sons among the Semites, 166 ; sacrifice of children to Baal 
among the Semites, 166-168 ; Canaanite and Hebrew custom of burning 
firstborn children in honour of Baal or Moloch, 168-174; tradition of 
the origin of the Passover, 174-178 ; custom of sacrificing all the first- 
born, whether animals or men, probably a very ancient Semitic institution, 
178 sq. ; sacrifice of firstborn children among many peoples, 179-186; 
the ' ' Sacred Spring "in ancient Italy, 186 sq. ; different motives may 
have led to the killing of the firstborn, 1 87 sq. ; the doctrine of rebirth 
may have furnished one motive for the infanticide of the firstborn, 188^^.; 
the same belief may explain the rule of infant succession in Polynesia and 
may partly account for the prevalence of infanticide in that region, 1 90 sq. ; 
abdication or deposition of the father when his son attains to manhood, 
191 sq. ; traces of such customs in Greek myth and legend, 192-194; 
on the whole the sacrifice of a king's son as a substitute for his father 
would not be surprising, at least in Semitic lands, 194 sq. 

Chapter VII. — Succession to the 

Soul Pp. 196-204 

Tendency of a custom of regicide to extinguish a royal family no bar to the 
observance of such a custom among peoples who set little value on human 
life, 196-198; transmission of the soul of the slain divinity to his suc- 
cessor, 198; transmission of the souls of chiefs and others in Nias, 
America, and elsewhere, 198-200; inspired representatives of dead kings 
in Africa, 200-202 ; right of succession to the kingdom conferred by the 
possession of corporeal relics of dead kings, such as their skulls, their 
teeth, or their hair, 202 sq. ; souls of slain Shilluk kings transmitted to 
their successors, 204. 

Chapter VIII. — The Killing of the 

Tree-Spirit Pp. 205-271 

§ I. TAe Whitsuntide Mummers, pp. 205-214.— The single combat of the King 
of the Wood at Nemi probably a mitigation of an older custom of putting 
him to death at the end of a fixed period, 205 sq. ; the theory confirmed 


by traces of a custom of periodically putting the representative of the tree- 
spirit to death in Northern Europe, 206 ; Bavarian and Swabian customs 
of beheading the representatives of the tree-spirit at Whitsuntide, 207 sq. ; 
killing the Wild Man in Saxony and Bohemia, 208 sq. ; beheading the 
King on Whitmonday in Bohemia, 209-211 ; the leaf-clad mummers in 
these customs represent the tree-spirit, 211 ; the tree-spirit killed in 
order to prevent its decay and to ensure its revival in a vigorous successor, 
211 sq. ; resemblances between the North European customs and the 
rites of Nemi, 212-214. 

§ 2. Mock Human Sacrifices, pp. 214-220. — The mock killing of the leaf-clad 
mummers probably a substitute for an old custom of killing them in 
earnest, 214 ; substitution of mock human sacrifices for real ones in Mina- 
hassa, Arizona, Nias, and elsewhere, 214-217; mock human sacrifices 
carried out in efiigy in ancient Egypt, India, Siam, Japan, and else- 
where, 217-219; mimic sacrifices of fingers, 219; mimic rite of 
circumcision, 219 sq. 

■'% 3. Burying the Carnival, pp. 220-233. — The killing and resurrection of a god 

/ not peculiar to tree-worship but common to the hunting, pastoral, and 

" agricultural stages of society, 220 sq. ; European customs of burying the 

Carnival and carrying out Death, 221 sq. ; effigies of the Carnival burnt 

Italy, 222-224 ; funeral of the Carnival in Catalonia, 225 sq. ; funeral 

of the Carnival or of Shrove Tuesday in France, 226-230 ; burying the 

Carnival in Germany and Austria, 230-232 ; burning the Carnival in 

Greece, 232 sq. ; resurrection enacted in these ceremonies, 233. 

§ 4. Carrying out Death, pp. 233-240. — Carrying out Death in Bavaria, 233- 
23s ; in Thiiringen, 235 sq. ; in Silesia, 236 sq. ; in Bohemia, 237 sq. ; 
in Moravia, 238 sq. ; the effigy of Death feared and abhorred, 239 sq. 

§ 5. Sawing the Old Woman, pp. 240-245. — Sawing the Old Woman at Mid- 
Lent in Italy, 240 sq. ; in France, 241 sq. ; in Spain and among the 
Slavs, 242 sq. ; Sawing the Old Woman on Palm Sunday among the 
gypsies, 243 sq. ; seven-legged effigies of Lent in Spain and Italy, 244 sq. 

§ 6. Bringing in Summer, pp. 246-254. — Custom of Carrying out Death fol- 
lowed by a ceremony of bringing in Summer, represented by a tree or 
branches, 246 sq. ; new potency of life ascribed to the effigy of Death, 
247-251; the Summer-tree equivalent to the May-tree, 251 sq.; the 
Summer-tree a revival of the image of Death, hence the image of Death 
must be an embodiment of the spirit of vegetation, 252 sq. ; the names of 
Carnival, Death, and Summer in these customs seem to cover an ancient 
spirit of vegetation, 253 sq. 

§ 7. Battle of Summer and Winter, pp. 254-261. — Dramatic contests between 
representatives of Summer and Winter in Sweden, Germany, and Austria, 
254-258 ; the Queen of Winter and the Queen of May in the Isle of Man, 
258 ; contests between representatives of Summer and Winter among the 
Esquimaux, 259 ; Winter driven away by the Canadian Indians, 259 sq. ; 
the burning of Winter at Zurich, 260 sq. 


§8. Death and Resurrection of Kostrubonko, pp. 261-263. — Russian ceremonies 
like those of Burying the Carnival or Carrying out Death, 261 ; death and 
resurrection of Kostrubonko at Eastertide, 261 ; figure of Kupalo thrown 
into a stream on Midsummer day, 262 ; funeral of Kostroma, Lada, or 
Yarilo on St. Peter's day (29th June), 262 sq. 

§ 9. Death and Revival of Vegetation, pp. 263-265. — The Russian Kostrubonko, 
Yarilo, and so on probably in origin spirits of the dying and reviving 
vegetation, 263 sq. ; grief and gladness, love and hatred curiously blended 
in these ceremonies, 264 ; expulsion of Death sometimes enacted without 
an effigy, 264 sg. 

§ 10. Analogous Rites in India, pp. 265 sq. — Images of Siva and Parvati 
married, drowned, and mourned for in India, 265 sq. ; equivalence of the 
custom to the spring ceremonies of Europe, 266. 

§ II. The Magic Spring, pp. 266-271. — The foregoing customs were originally 
rites intended to ensure the revival of nature in spring by means of 
imitative magic, 266-269 > in modern Europe these old magical rites bave 
degenerated into mere pageants and pastimes, 269 ; parallel to the spring 
customs of Europe in the magical rites of the aborigines of Central 
Australia, 269-271. 

Note A. — Chinese Indifference to Death . Pp. 273-276 

Note B. — Swinging as a Magical Rite . Pp. 277-285 

Addenda •-.... P. 287 
Index .... 

• Pp- 289-305 



At an early stage of his intellectual development man Mortality 
deems himself naturally immortal, and imagines that were°^!^™^^ 
it not for the baleful arts of sorcerers, who cut the vital 
thread prematurely short, he would live for ever. The 
illusion, so flattering to human wishes and hopes, is still 
current among many savage tribes at the present day,^ and 

' For examples see M. Dobrizhoffer, 
Historia de Abiponibus (Vienna, 1 784), 
ii. 92 sq., 240 sqq. ; C. Gay, "Frag- 
ment d'un voyage dans le Chili et au 
Cusco," Bulletin ie la Societi de Gio- 
^raphie (Paris), Deuxi^me Serie, xix. 
(1843) p. 25; H. Delaporte, " Une 
Visite chez les Araucaniens," Bulletin 
de la Sociiti de Gdographie (Paris), 
Quatrieme Serie, a. (1855) p. 30; 
K. von den Steinen, Unter den Natur- 
pp. 344, 348 ; E. F. im Thurn, 
Among the Indians of Guiana (London, 
1883), pp. 330 sq. ; A.^ G. Morice, 
"The Canadian Denes," Annual 
Archaeological Report, jgo^ (Toronto, 
igo6), p. 207 ; (Sir) George Grey, 
Journals of Two Expeditions of Dis- 
covery into North- West and Western 
Australia (London, 1841), ii. 238; 
A. Oldfield, "The Aborigines of 
Australia," Transactions of the Ethno- 
logical Society of London, N.S. iii. 
(1865) p. 236; J. Dawson, Australian 
Aborigines (Melbourne, Sydney, and 
Adelaide, 1 881), p. 63 ; Rev. G. 
Taplin, "The Narrinyeri," Native 
Tribes of South Australia (Adelaide, 
1879), p. 25 ; C. W. Schiirmann, 

FT. in 

"The Aboriginal Tribes of Port U\n- 
co\n," Native Tribes of South Australia, 
p. 237 ; H. E. A. Meyer, in Native 
Tribes of South Australia, p. 195 ; 
R. Brough Smyth, The Aborigines of 
Victoria (Melbourne, 1878), i. no, 
ii. 289 sq. ; W. Stanbridge, in Trans- 
actions of the Ethnological Society of 
London, Nevi' Series, i. (1861) p. 299 ; 
L. Fison and A. W. Howitt, Kamilaroi 
and Kurnai, pp. 250 sq. ; A. L. P. 
Cameron, " Notes on some Tribes of 
New South Wales," Journal of the 
Anthropological Institute, xiv. (1885) 
pp. 361, 362 sq. ; W. Ridley, Kamil- 
aroi, Second Edition (Sydney, 1875), 
p. 159 ; Baldwin Spencer and F. J. 
Gillen, Native Tribes of Central Aus- 
tralia (London, 1899), pp. 46-48; 
Cambridge Anthropological Expedition 
to Torres Straits, v. (Cambridge, 1904) 
pp. 248, 323 ; E. Beardmore, " The 
Natives of Mowat, British New 
Guinea," Journal of the Anthropo- 
logical Institute, xix. (1890) p. 461 ; 
R. E. Guise, " On the Tribes inhabit- 
ing the Mouth of the Wanigela River, 
New Qiv\n^&," Journal of the Anthro- 
pological Institute, xxviii. (1899) p. 
216 ; C. G. Seligmann, The Melan- 
\ B 


it may be supposed to have prevailed universally in that 
Age of Magic which appears to have everywhere preceded 
the Age of Religion. But in time the sad truth of human 
mortality was borne in upon our primitive philosopher with 
a force of demonstration which no prejudice could resist and 
no sophistry dissemble. Among the manifold influences 
which combined to wring from him a reluctant assent to the 
necessity of death must be numbered the growing influence 
of religion, which by exposing the vanity of magic and of 
all the extravagant pretensions built on it gradually lowered 
man's proud and defiant attitude towards nature, and taught 
him to believe that there are mysteries in the universe which 
his feeble intellect can never fathom, and forces which . his 
puny hands can never control. Thus more and more he 
learned to bow to the inevitable and to console himself for 
the brevity and the sorrows of life on earth by the hope 
of a blissful eternity hereafter. But if he reluctantly acknow- 
ledged the existence of beings at once superhuman and 
supernatural, he was as yet far from suspecting the width 
and the depth of the gulf which divided him from them. 
The gods with whom his imagination now peopled the 
darkness of the unknown were indeed admitted by him 
to be his superiors in knowledge and in power, in the 
joyous splendour of their life and in the length of its dura- 
tion. But, though he knew it not, these glorious and awful 
beings were merely, like the spectre of the Brocken, the 

esians of British New Guinea (Cam- Jahre in der SUdsee (Stuttgart, 1907), 
bridge, 1910), p. 279; K. Vetter, pp. 199-201; G. Brown, D.D., 
Koiiim heriiber und hilf uns ! oder die Melanesians and Polynesians (London, 
Arbeit der Neuen-Dettelsauer Mission, 1910), p. 176; Father Abinal 
iii. (Barmen, 1898) pp. \osq.;id., "Astrologie Malgache," Missiot^s 
ra Naehrichten uber Kaiser-Wilhelms- Catholiques, xi. (1879) p. 506; A. 
land und den Bismarck- Archipel, i%gy, Grandidier, "Madagascar," Bulletin 
pp. 94, 98; A. Deniau, " Croyances de la Sociiti de Giographie (Paris), 
religieuses at mceurs des indigenes de Sixi^me Serie, iii. (1872) p. 399; 
I'ile Male," Missions Catholiques, Father Campana, "Congo, Mission 
xxxiii. (I90l)pp. 315 jy.; C. Ribbe, Catholique de Landana," Missions 
Zwei Jahre unter den Kannibalen der Catholiques, xxvii. (1895) PP- 102 
Salomo - Inseln (Dresden - Blasewitz, sq. ; ■J\v. Masui, Guide de la Section 
1903), p. 268; P. A. Kleintitschen, del'Etat Indipendant duCongoaVEx- 
Die Kustenbewohner der Gazellehalb- position de Bruxelles-Tervueren en 
insel (Hiltrup bei Munster, N.D.), i8gj (Brussels, 1897), p. 82. The 
p. 344 ; P- Rascher, " Die Sulka," discussion of this and similar evidence 
Archtvfur Anthropologie, xxix. (1904) must be reserved for another work, 
pp. 221 sq.; R. Parkinson, Dreissig 


reflections of his own diminutive personality exaggerated 
into gigantic proportions by distance and by the mists and 
clouds upon which they were cast. Man in fact created 
"gods in his own likeness and being himself mortal he 
naturally supposed his creatures to be in the same sad 
predicament. Thus the Greenlanders believed that a wind 
could kill their most powerful god, and that he would 
certainly die if he touched a dog. When they heard 
of the Christian God, they kept asking if he never died, 
and being informed that he did not, they were much 
surprised, and said that he must be a very great god 
indeed.^ In answer to the enquiries of Colonel Dodge, a 
North American Indian stated that the world was made by 
the Great Spirit. Being asked which Great Spirit he meant, 
the good one or the bad one, " Oh, neither of them" replied 
he, " the Great Spirit that made the world is dead long ago. 
He could not possibly have lived as long as this." ^ A tribe 
in the Philippine Islands told the Spanish conquerors that 
the grave of the Creator was upon the top of Mount 
Cabunian.^ Heitsi-eibib, a god or divine hero of the 
Hottentots, died several times and came to life again. His 
graves are generally to be met with in narrow defiles between 
mountains. When the Hottentots pass one of them, they 
throw a stone on it for good luck, sometimes muttering " Give 
us plenty of cattle." * The grave of Zeus, the great god of Mortality 
Greece, was shewn to visitors in Crete as late as about the °f ^'"*^'' 

' gods. 

beginning of our era.^ The body of Dionysus was buried at 
Delphi beside the golden statue of Apollo, and his tomb bore 
the inscription, " Here lies Dionysus dead, the son of Semele."^ 

1 C. Meiners, Geschichte der Re- Africa (London, 1864), pp. 75 ■''?■ > 

ligionen (Hanover, 1806-1807), i. 48. Theophilus Hahn, Tsuni-\Goam, the 

^ R. I. Dodge,' Ok?" Wild Indians, Supreme Being of the Khoi-Khoi 

p. 112. (London, 1881), pp. 56, 69. 

5 F. Blumentritt, ' ' Der Ahnencultus ' Callimachus, Hymn to Zeus, 9 sq. ; 

und die religiosen Anschauungen der Diodorus Siculus.iii. 61 ; Lucian,/'Az7o- 

Malaien des Philippinen - Archipels," pseudes,-^; id., Jupiter Tragoedus, i,^; 

Mittheilungen d. Wiener geogr. Gesell- id. , Philopatris, i o ; Porphyry, Vita 

schaft, 1882, p. 198. Pythagorae, 17 ; Cicero, De natura 

* Sir James E. Alexander, Expedi- deorum, iii. 21. 53 ; Pomponius Mela, 

Hon of Discovery into the hiterior of ii. 7. 112; Minucius Felix, Octavius, 

Africa, i. 166; H. Lichtenstein, 21 ; Lactantius, Divin. instit. i. II. 
Reisen im SUdlichen Africa (Berlin, ^ Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 35 ; 

1811-1812), i. 349 sq. ; W. H. L Philochorus, /Vaj^w. 22, in C. MuUer's 

Bleek, Reynard the Fox in South Fragmenta historicorum Gtaecorum, 


According to one account, Apollo himself was buried at 
Delphi ; for Pythagoras is said to have carved an inscription 
on his tomb, setting forth how the god had been killed by the 
python and buried under the tripod.^ The ancient god Cronus 
was buried in Sicily,^ and the graves of Hermes, Aphrodite, 
and Ares were shewn in Hermopolis, Cyprus, and Thrace. 
MortaUty The great gods of Egypt themselves were not exempt 

Egyptian f""*^"^ *^ common lot. They too grew old and died. For 
gods. like men they were composed of body and soul, and like 
men were subject to all the passions and infirmities of the 
flesh. Their bodies, it is true, were fashioned of more ethereal 
mould, and lasted longer than ours, but they could not hold 
out for ever against the siege of time. Age converted their 
bones into silver, their flesh into gold, and their azure locks 
into lapis-lazuli. When their time came, they passed away 
from the cheerful world of the living to reign as dead gods 
over dead men in the melancholy world beyond the grave. 
Even their souls, like those of mankind, could only endure 
after death so long as their bodies held together ; and hence 
it was as needful to preserve the corpses of the gods as the 
corpses of common folk, lest with the divine body the divine 
spirit should also come to an untimely end. At first their 
remains were laid to rest under the desert sands of the 
mountains, that the dryness of the soil and the purity of the 
air might protect them from putrefaction and decay. Hence 
one of the oldest titles of the Egyptian gods is " they who 
are under the sands." But when at a later time the discovery 
of the art of embalming gave a new lease of life to the souls 
of the dead by preserving their bodies for an indefinite time 
from corruption, the deities were permitted to share the 
benefit of an invention which held out to gods as well as to 
men a reasonable hope of immortality. Every province then 
had the tomb and mummy of its dead god. The mummy 
of Osiris was to be seen at Mendes ; Thinis boasted of the 

i. p. 378 ; Tatian, Oratio ad Graecos, x. 24 ; Migne's Patrologia Graeca, 

8, ed. Otto ; J. Tzetzes, Schol. on i. col. 1434). 

Lycophron, 208. Compare Ch. Peter- ^ Porphyry, Vit. Pythag. 16. 

sen, "Das Grab und die Todtenfeier ^ pjjiiochorus, ^r. 184, in C. Mliller's 

des Dionysos," Philologus, xv. (i860) Fragmenta historicorum Graecorum, 

PP- 7 7-9 1- The grave of Dionysus ii. p. 414. 

is also said to have been at Thebes ^ Ch. Lobeck, /i^/aoj>Aoffi«j(K6nigs- 

(Clemens Romanus, Recognitioius, berg, 1829), pp. 574 sq. 


mummy of Anhouri ; and Heliopolis rejoiced in the posses- 
sion of that of Toumou.^ But while their bodies lay swathed 
and bandaged here on earth in the tomb, their souls, if we 
may trust the Egyptian priests, shone as bright stars in the 
firmament. The soul of Isis sparkled in Sirius, the soul of 
Horus in Orion, and the soul of Typhon in the Great Bear.^ 
But the death of the god did not involve the extinction of 
his sacred stock ; for he commonly had by his wife a son and 
heir, who on the demise of his divine parent succeeded to the 
full rank, power, and honours of the godhead.^ The high gods 

^ G. Maspero, Histoire ancienjte des 
peuples de r Orient classique : les ori- 
gines, pp. 108-111, 116-118. On the 
mortality of the Egyptian gods see 
further A. Moret, Le Rit-uel du culte 
dimn journalier en Egyfte (Paris, 
1902), pp. 219 sqq. 

2 Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 21, 22, 
38, 61 ; Diodorus Siculus, i. 27. 4 ; 
Dittenberger, Orientis Graeci in- 
scriptiones seleciae, i. No. 56, p. 102. 

^ A. Wiedemann, Die Religion der 
alten Aegypter, pp. 59 sq.; G. Maspero, 
Histoire ancienne des peuples de P Orient 
classique: les origines, pp. 104-108, 
150. Indeed it was an article of the 
Egyptian creed that every god must die 
after he had begotten a son in his own 
likeness (A. Wiedemann, Herodots 
zweites Buck, p. 204). Hence the 
Egyptian deities were commonly 
arranged in trinities of a simple and 
natural type, each comprising a father, 
a mother, and a son. "Speaking 
generally, two members of such a triad 
were gods, one old and one young, and 
the third was a goddess, who was, 
naturally, the wife, or female counter- 
part, of the older god. The younger 
god was the son of the older god and 
goddess, and he was supposed to pos- 
sess all the attributes and powers which 
belonged to his father. . . . The 
feminine counterpart or wife of the 
chief god was usually a local goddess 
of little or no importance ; on the 
other hand, her son by the chief god 
was nearly as important as his father, 
because it was assumed that he would 
succeed to his rank and throne when 
the elder god had passed away. The 
conception of the triad or trinity is, in 

Egypt, probably as old as the belief in 
gods, and it seems to be based on 
the anthropomorphic views which were 
current in the earliest times about 
them " (E. A. Wallis Budge, The Gods 
of the Egyptians, London, 1904, i. 
113 sq.). If the Christian doctrine 
of the Trinity took shape under 
Egyptian influence, the function 
originally assigned to the Holy Spirit 
may have been that of the divine 
mother. In the apocryphal Gospel to 
the Hebrews, as Mr. F. C. Conybeare 
was kind enough to point out to me, 
Christ spoke of the Holy Ghost as his 
mother. The passage is quoted by 
Origen {Comment, in Joan. II. vol. iv. 
col. 132, ed. Migne), and runs as 
follows : " My mother the Holy Spirit 
took me a moment ago by one of my 
hairs and carried me away to the great 
Mount Tabor." Compare Origen, In 
Jeremiam Horn. XV. ^, vol. iii. col. 
433, ed. Migne. In the reign of Trajan 
a certain Alcibiades, from Apamea in 
Syria, appeared at Rome with a volume 
in which the Holy Ghost was described 
as a stalwart female about ninety-six 
miles high and broad in proportion. See 
Hippolytus, Refut. omnitim haeresium, 
ix. 13, p. 462, ed. Duncker and Schnei- 
dewin. The Ophites represented the 
Holy Spirit as "the first woman," 
" mother of all living," who was be- 
loved by " the first man" and likewise 
by " the second man," and who con- 
ceived by one or both of them ' ' the 
light, which they call Christ." See H. 
Usener, Das Weihnachtsfest, pp. 116 
sq., quoting Irenaeus, i. 28. As to a 
female member of the Trinity, see 
further id., Dreiheit, einVersuch mytho- 


of Babylon also, though they appeared to their worshippers 
only in dreams and visions, were conceived to be human in 
their bodily shape, human in their passions, and human in 
their fate ; for like men they were born into the world, and 
like men they loved and fought and died.^ 
The death One of the most famous stories of the death of a god is 

GrSt Pan. ^old by Plutarch. It runs thus. In the reign of the emperor 
Tiberius a certain schoolmaster named Epitherses was sailing 
from Greece to Italy. The ship in which he had taken his 
passage was a merchantman and there were many other 
passengers on board. At evening, when they were off the 
Echinadian Islands, the wind died away, and the vessel drifted 
close in to the island of Paxos. Most of the passengers were 
awake and many were still drinking wine after dinner, when 
suddenly a voice hailed the ship from the island, calling upon 
Thamus. The crew and passengers were taken by surprise, 
for though there was an Egyptian pilot named Thamus on 
board, few knew him even by name. Twice the cry was 
repeated, but Thamus kept silence. However, at the third 
call he answered, and the voice from the shore, now louder 
than ever, said, " When you are come to Palodes, announce 
that the Great Pan is dead." Astonishment fell upon all, and 
they consulted whether it would be better to do the bidding 
of the voice or not. At last Thamus resolved that, if the 
wind held, he would pass the place in silence, but if it dropped 
when they were off Palodes he would give the message. Well, 
when they were come to Palodes, there was a great calm ; so 
Thamus standing in the stern and looking towards the land 
cried out, as he had been bidden, " The Great Pan is dead." 
The words had hardly passed his lips when a loud sound 
of lamentation broke on their ears, as if a multitude were 

logischer Zahlenlehre (Bonn, 1903), deity. Thus it seems not impossible 

pp. 41 sqq. ; Gibbon, Decline and that the ancient Egyptian doctrine of 

Fall of the Roman Empire, ch. I. vol. the divine Trinity may have been dis- 

ix. p. 261, note g (Edinburgh, 181 1). tilled through Philo into Christianity. 

Mr. Conybeare tells me that Philo On the other hand it has been suggested 

Judaeus, who lived in the first half of that the Christian Trinity is of Baby- 

the first century of our era, constantly Ionian origin. See H. Zimmern, in 

defines God as a Trinity in Unity, or a E. Schrader's Die Keilinschriften und 

Unity in Trinity, and that the specu- das Alte Testavtent^ pp. 418 sq., 

lations of this Alexandrian Jew deeply 440. 

influenced the course of Christian ^ L. W. King, Babylonian Religion 

thought on the mystical nature of the and Mythology (London, 1899), p. 8. 


mourning. This strange story, vouched for by many on 
board, soon got wind at Rome, and Thamus was sent for and 
questioned by the emperor Tiberius himself, who caused 
enquiries to be made about the dead god.^ In modern 
times, also, the annunciation of the death of the Great 
Pan has been much discussed and various explanations 
of it have been suggested. On the whole the simplest 
and most natural would seem to be that the deity 
whose sad end was thus mysteriously proclaimed and 
lamented was the Syrian god Tammuz or Adonis, whose 
death is known to have been annually bewailed by his 
followers both in Greece and in his native Syria. At 
Athens the solemnity fell at midsummer, and there is no 
improbability in the view that in a Greek island a band of 
worshippers of Tammuz should have been celebrating the 
death of their god with the customary passionate demon- 
strations of sorrow at the very time when a ship lay 
becalmed off the shore, and that in the stillness of the 
summer night the voices of lamentation should have been 
wafted with startling distinctness across the water and 
should have made on the minds of the listening passengers 
a deep and lasting impression.^ However that may be, 

' Plutarch, De defectu oraciihrum, god of Mendes in Egypt, whom Greek 

17. writers constantly mistook for a goat- 

2 This is in substance the explana- god and identified with Pan. A living 

tion briefly suggested by F. Liebrecht, ram was always revered as an incarna- 

and developed more fully and with tion of the god, and when it died there 

certain variations of detail by S. was a great mourning throughout all 

Reinach. See F. Liebrecht, Des the land of Mendes. Some stone 

Gervasius von Tilbury OHa Imperialia coffins of the sacred animal have been 

(Hanover, 1856), p. 180; S. Reinach, found in the ruins of the city. See 

Cultes, mythes et religions, iii. (Paris, Herodotus, ii. 46, with A. Wiede- 

1908), pp. \ sqq. As to the worship mann's commentary; W. H. Roscher, 

of Tammuz or Adonis in Syria and " Die Legende vora Tode des groszen 

Greece see my Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Pan," Fkckeisen's Jakrbiicher fiir 

Second Edition (London, 1907). In classische Philologie, xxxviii. (1892) pp. 

Plutarch's narrative confusion seems 465-477. Dr. Roscher shews that 

to have arisen through the native name Thamus was an Egyptian name, com- 

(Tammuz) of the deity, which either paring Plato, Phaedrus, p. 274 D E ; 

accidentally coincided with that of the Polyaenus, iii. 2. 5 ; Philostratus, Vit. 

pilot (as S. Reinach thinks) or was Apollon. Tyan. vi. 5. 108. As to 

erroneously transferred to him by a the worshipful goat, or rather ram, of 

narrator (as F. Liebrecht supposed). Mendes, see also Diodorus Siculus, 

An entirely different explanation of the i. 84; Strabo, xvii. i. 19, p. 802; 

story has been proposed by Dr. W. H. Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. ii. 

Roscher. He holds that the god whose 39, p. 34, ed. Potter; Suidas, s.v. 

death was lamented was the great ram- M^i-St/j'. 


Death of stories of the same kind found currency in western Asia down 
orth^'jlnn *° ^'^^ Middle Ages. An Arab writer relates that in the year 
1063 or 1064 A.D., in the reign of the caliph Caiem, 
a rumour went abroad through Bagdad, which soon spread 
all over the province of Irac, that some Turks out hunting in 
the desert had seen a black tent, where many men and 
women were beating their faces and uttering loud cries, as it 
is the custom to do in the East when some one is dead. 
And among the cries they distinguished these words, " The 
great King of the Jinn is dead, woe to this country 1 " In 
consequence of this a mysterious threat was circulated from 
Armenia to Chuzistan that every town which did not lament 
Death of the dead King of the Jinn should utterly perish. Again, in 
dusSr^^' ^^^ ^^^"^ 1203 or 1204 A.D. a fatal disease, which attacked 
the throat, raged in parts of Mosul and Irac, and it was 
divulged that a woman of the Jinn called Umm 'Uncud or 
" Mother of the Grape-cluster '.' had lost her son, and that all 
who did not lament for him would fall victims to the epidemic. 
So men and women sought to save themselves from death by 
assembling and beating their faces, while they cried out in a 
lamentable voice, "O mother of the Grape-cluster, excuse us ; 
the Grape-cluster is dead ; we knew it not." ^ 

1 F. Liebrecht, op. cit. pp. Y^o sq. ; as involving the violent extinction of a 

W. Robertson Smith, Religion of the particle of divine life. " On the mor- 

Semites,"^ pp. 412, 414. The latter tality of the gods in general and of the 

writer observes v?ith justice that " the Teutonic gods in particular, see J. 

wailing for 'Uncud, the divine Grape- Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie,^ i. 263 

cluster, seems to be the last survival of sqq. ; compare E. H. Meyer, Mythologie 

an old vintage piaculum." "The der Gennanen (Strasburg, 1903), p. 

dread of the worshippers," he adds, 288. As to the mortality of the Irish 

"that the neglect of the usual ritual gods, see Douglas Hyde, Literary 

would be followed by disaster, is par- History of Ireland (London, 1899), 

ticularly intelligible if they regarded pp. 80 sq. 
the necessary operations of agriculture 



§ I. Preference for a Violent Death 

If the high gods, who dwell remote from the fret and fever Human 
of this earthly life, are yet believed to die at last, it is not to be ?°if^^'^^ 
expected that a god who lodges in a frail tabernacle of flesh prevent 
should escape the same fate, though we hear of African ^o^jn^g™ 
kings who have imagined themselves immortal by virtue of old and , 
their sorceries.^ Now primitive peoples, as we have seen,^ ^^ *' 
sometimes believe that their safety and even that of the 
world is bound up with the life of one of these god-men or 
human incarnations of the divinity. Naturally, therefore, they 
take the utmost care of his life, out of a regard for their own. 
But no amount of care and precaution will prevent the man-god 
from growing old and feeble and at last dying. His worship- 
pers have to lay their account with this sad necessity and to 
meet it as best they can. The danger is a formidable one ; 
for if the course of nature is dependent on the man-god's 
life, what catastrophes may not be expected from the gradual 
enfeeblement of his powers and their final extinction in 
death? There is only one way of averting these dangers. 
The man-god must be killed as soon as he shews symptoms 
that his powers are beginning to fail, and his soul must be 
transferred to a vigorous successor before it has been seriously 
impaired by the threatened decay. The advantages of thus 

1 " Der Muata Cazembe und die Valdez, Six Years of a Traveller's Life 

Vdlkerstamme der Maravis, Chevas, in IVeslern Africa (London, 1861), ii. 

Muembas, Lundas und andere von Sild- 241 sg. 

Afrika," Zeitschrift fur allgemeine ^ gee Taboo and the Perils of the 

Erdkunde, vi. (1856) p. 395 ; F. T. Soul, pp. 6, 7 sq. 


putting the man-god to death instead of allowing him to die 
of old age and disease are, to the savage, obvious enough. 
For if the man-god dies what we call a natural death, it 
means, according to the savage, that his soul has either 
voluntarily departed from his body and refuses to return, 
or more commonly that it has been extracted, or at least 
detained in its wanderings, by a demon or sorcerer.^ In 
any of these cases the soul of the man-god is lost to his 
worshippers ; and with it their prosperity is gone and their 
very existence endangered. Even if they could arrange to 
catch the soul of the dying god as it left his lips or his 
nostrils and so transfer it to a successor, this would not 
effect their purpose ; for, dying of disease, his soul would 
necessarily leave his body in the last stage of weakness and 
exhaustion, and so enfeebled it would continue to drag out 
a languid, inert existence in any body to which it might be 
transferred. Whereas by slaying him his worshippers could, 
in the first place, make sure of catching his soul as it escaped 
and transferring it to a suitable successor ; and, in the second 
place, by putting him to death before his natural force was 
abated, they would secure that the world should not fall 
into decay with the decay of the man-god. Every purpose, 
therefore, was answered, and all dangers averted by thus 
killing the man-god and transferring his soul, while yet at 
its prime, to a vigorous successor. 
Preference Some of the reasons for preferring a violent death to the 

violent slow death of old age or disease are obviously as applicable 
death : the to common men as to the man-god. Thus the Mangaians 
old killed, think that " the spirits of those who die a natural death are 
excessively feeble and weak, as their bodies were at dissolu- 
tion ; whereas the spirits of those who are slain in battle are 
strong and vigorous, their bodies not having been reduced by 
disease."^ The Barongo believe that in the world beyond 
the grave the spirits of their dead ancestors appear with the 
exact form and lineaments which their bodies exhibited at the 
moment of death ; the spirits are young or old according 
as their bodies were young or old when they died ; there 

1 See Taboo and the Perils of the the South Pacific (London, 1876), p. 
Soul, pp. 26 sqq. 163. 

2 W. W. Gill, Myths and Songs of 


are baby' spirits who crawl about on all fours.^ The Lengua 
Indians of the Gran Chaco are persuaded that the souls of 
the departed correspond exactly in form and characteristics 
to the bodies which they quitted at death ; thus a tall man 
is tall, a short man is short, and a deformed man is deformed 
in the spirit-land, and the disembodied soul of a child remains 
a child, it never develops into an adult. Hence they burn 
the body of a murderer and scatter the ashes to the winds, 
thinking that this treatment will prevent his spirit from 
assuming human shape in the other world.^ So, too, the 
Naga tribes of Manipur hold that the ghost of a dead man 
is an exact image of the deceased as he was at the moment 
of death, with his scars, tattoo marks, mutilations, and all 
the rest.^ The Baganda think that the ghosts of men who 
were mutilated in life are mutilated in like manner after 
death ; so to avoid that shame they will rather die with all 
their limbs than lose one by amputation and live.* Hence, 
men sometimes prefer to kill themselves or to be killed before 
they grow feeble, in order that in the future life their souls 
may start fresh and vigorous as they left their bodies, instead 
of decrepit and worn out with age and disease. Thus in Fiji, 
" self-immolation is by no means rare, and they believe that 
as they leave this life, so they will remain ever after. This 
forms a powerful motive to escape from decrepitude, or from a 
crippled condition, by a voluntary death." ^ Or, as another 
observer of the Fijians puts it more fully, " the custom of 
voluntary suicide on the part of the old men, which is among 
their most extraordinary usages, is also connected with their 
superstitions respecting a future life. They believe that 
persons enter upon the delights of their elysium with the 
same faculties, mental and physical, that they possess at the 
hour of death, in short, that the spiritual life commences 
where the corporeal existence terminates. With these views, 
it is natural that they should desire to pass through this 
change before their mental and bodily powers are so enfeebled 

1 H. A. Junod, Les Ba-Ronga of Manipur [LonioTi, 191 1), p. 159. 
(Neuchatel, 1898), pp. 381 sq. * Rev. J. Roscoe, TAe Bagunda 

2 W. Barbrooke Giubb, An Un- (London, 191 1), p. 281. 

known People in an Unknown Land ^ Ch-WiWues, Narrative of the U.S. 

(London, 191 1), p. 120. Exploring Expedition {l^onAon, 1845), 

3 T. C. Hodson, The Naga Tribes Hi. 96. 


by age as to deprive them of their capacity for enjoyment. 
To this motive must be added the contempt which attaches 
to physical weakness among a nation of warriors, and the 
wrongs and insults which await those who are no longer 
able to protect themselves. When therefore a man finds his 
strength declining with the advance of age, and feels that he 
will soon be unequal to discharge the duties of this life, and 
to partake in the pleasures of that which is to come, he calls 
together his relations, and tells them that he is now worn 
out and useless, that he sees they are all ashamed of him, 
and that he has determined to be buried." So on a day 
appointed they used to meet and bury him alive.^ In Vat6, 
one of the New Hebrides, the aged were buried alive at their 
own request. It was considered a disgrace to the family of an 
old chief if he was not buried alive.^ Of the Kamants, a Jewish 
tribe in Abyssinia, it is reported that " they never let a person 
die a natural death, but that if any of their relatives is nearly 
expiring, the priest of the village is called to cut his throat ; 
if this be omitted, they believe that the departed soul has not 
entered the mansions of the blessed." ^ The old Greek philo- 
sopher Heraclitus thought that the souls of those who die in 
battle are purer than the souls of those who die of disease.* 
Preference Among the Chiriguanos, a tribe of South American 

violent Indians on the river Pilcomayo, when a man was at the 
death : the point of death his nearest relative used to break his spine by 
agedkiiied. ^ blow of an axe, for they thought that to die a natural 
death was the greatest misfortune that could befall a man.^ 
Whenever a Payagua Indian of Paraguay, or a Guayana of 
south-eastern Brazil, grew weary of life, a feast was made, 
and amid the revelry and dancing the man was .gummed 
and feathered with the plumage of many-coloured birds. A 
huge- jar had been previously fixed in the ground to be 

' U.S. Exploring Expedition, Eth- * H. Diels, Die Fragmente det 

nology and Philology, by H. Hale Vorsokratiker,"^ '\. {Ji^-cXva, Kjod) '^. %\ ; 

(Philadelphia, 1846), p. 65. Compare id., Herakleitos von Ephesos^ (Berlin, 

Th.. '^iWiams, Fiji and the Fijians,^ i. 1909), p. 50, Frag. 136, ypxixo.l dprjl- 

183 ; J. E. Erskine,_/i?»rKa/o/'a Cruise <j>aT0i KaBapiirepai fl ivl voiaoi^. 

among the Islands of the Western Pacific ' F. de Castelnau, Expedition dans 

(London, 1853), p. 248. les parties centrales de V Amirique du 

2 G. Turner, Samoa, p. 335. Sud, iv. (Paris, 185 1) p. 380. Com- 

' Martin Flad, A Short Description pare id. ii. 49 sg. as to the practice of 

of the Falasha and Kamants in Abys- the Chavantes, a tribe of Indians on 

sinia, p. ig. the Tocantins river. 


ready for him ; in this he was placed, the mouth of the jar 
was covered with a heavy lid of baked clay, the earth was 
heaped over it, and thus " he went to his doom more joyful 
and gladsome than to his first nuptials." ^ Among the 
Koryaks of north-eastern Asia, when a man felt that his last 
hour was come, superstition formerly required that he should 
either kill himself or be killed by a friend, in order that he 
might escape the Evil One and deliver himself up to the 
Good God.^ Similarly among the Chukchees of the same 
region, when a man's strength fails and he is tired of life, he 
requests his son or other near relation to despatch him, 
indicating the manner of death he prefers to die. So, on a 
day appointed, his friends and neighbours assemble, and in 
their presence he is stabbed, strangled, or otherwise disposed 
of according to his directions.^ The turbulent Angamis are 
the most warlike and bloodthirsty of the wild head-hunting 
tribes in the valley of the Brahmapootra. Among them, 
when a warrior dies a natural death, his nearest male 
relative takes a spear and wounds the corpse by a blow on 
the head, in order that the man may be received with 
honour in the other world as one who has died in battle.* 
The heathen Norsemen believed that only those who fell 
fighting were received by Odin in Valhalla ; hence it appears 

1 R. Southey, History of Brazil, iii. 14 sq. ; " Der Anadyr- Bezirk nach A. 
(London, 1819) p. 619 ; R. F. W. Olssufjew," Petermann's Mitthei- 
^valon, m The Captivity of Hans Slade lungen, xlv. (1899) p. 230; V. 
of Hesse (Hakluyt Society, London, Priklonski, " Todtengebrauche der 
1874), p. 122. .. Jakuten," Globus, lix. (1891) p. 82 ; 

2 C. von Dittmar, " Uber die R. von Seidlitz, " Der Selbstmord bei 
Koraken und die ihnen sehr nahe den Tschuktschen," ib. p. in ; 
verwandten Tschuktschen," Bulletin de Cremat, " Der Anadyrbezirk Sibiriens 
la Classe philologiqtte de tAcadimie und seine Bevolkerung," Globus, Ixvi. 
Impiriale des Sciences de St-PUers- (1894) p. 287 ; H. de Windt, Through 
bourg, xiii. (1856) coll. 122, 124 sq. the Gold-fields of Alaska to Bering 
The custom has now been completely Straits (London, 1898), pp. 223-225 ; 
abandoned. See W. Jochelson, " The W. Bogaras, " The Chukchee " (Ley- 
Koryak, Religion and Myths " (Leyden den and New York, 1904-1909), pp. 
and New York, 1905), p. 103 (.iT/emazr- 560 sqq. (Memoir of the American 
of the American Museum of Natural Museum of Natural History, The 
History, The Jesup North Pacific Ex- Jesup North Pacific Expedition, vol. 
pedition, vol. vi. part i.). vii.). 

3 C. von Dittmar, op. cit. col. 132; * L. A. Waddell, "The Tribes of 
De Wrangell, Le Nord de la Sibirie the Brahmaputra Valley," Journal of 
(Paris, 1843), i. 263 J?. ; " Die Ethno- the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Ixix. 
graphie Russlandsnach A. F. Rittich," part iii. (1901) pp. 20, 24; T. C. 
Petermann^s Mittheilungen, Ergdn- Hodson, The Naga Tribes of Manipur 
iimgsheft, No. 54 (Gotha, 1878), pp. (London, 1911), p. 151. 



to have been customary to wound the dying with a spear, in 
order to secure their admission to the happy land. The 
custom may have been a mitigation of a still older practice 
of slaughtering the sick.^ We know from Procopius that 
among the Heruli, a Teutonic tribe, the sick and old were 
regularly slain at their own request and then burned on a 
pyre.^ The Wends used to kill their aged parents and 
other kinsfolk, and having killed them they boiled and ate 
their bodies ; and the old folks preferred to die thus rather 
than to drag out a weary life of weakness and decrepitude.* 

§ 2. Kings killed when their Strength fails 

But it is with the death of the god-man — the divine king 
or priest — that "we ,are here especially concerned. The 
mystic kings of Fire and Water in Cambodia are not 
allowed to die a natural death. Hence when one of them 
is seriously ill and the elders think that he cannot recover, 
they stab him to death.* The people of Congo believed, as 
we have seen,* that if their pontiff the Chitomd Were to die a 
natural death, the world would perish, and the earth, which 
he alone sustained by his power and merit, would immediately 
be annihilated. Accordingly when he fell ill and seemed 
likely to die, the man who was destined to be his successor 
entered the pontiffs house with a rope or a club and 
strangled or clubbed him to death.^ A fuller account 
of this custom is given by an old Italian writer as follows : 
" Let us pass to the death of the magicians, who often 
die a violent death, and that for the most part volun- 
tarily. I shall speak only of the head of this crew, from 
whom his followers take example. He is called Ganga 
Chitome, being reputed god of the earth. The first-fruits 

1 K. Simrock, Handbuch der deut- 
schen Mythologie,^ pp. 177 sq., 507 ; 
H. M. Chadwick, The Ctilt of Othin 
(London, 1899), pp. 13 sq., 34 sq. 

2 Procopius, De hello Gothico, ii. 14. 
^ J. Grimm, Deutsche Rechtsalter- 

thiimerf p. 488. A custom of putting 
the sick and aged to death seems to 
have prevailed in several branches of 
the Aryan family ; it may at one time 
have been common to the whole stock. 

See J. Grimm, op. cit. pp. 486 sqq. ; 
O. Schrader, Reallexikon der indoger- 
manischen Altertumskunde, pp. 36-39. 

* See The Magic Art and the Evolu- 
tion of Kings, ii. 4 sq. 

^ Taboo and the Perils of the Soul, 
pp. 5 sq. 

\ J. B. Labat, Relation histortque de 
VEthiopie occidentale (Paris, 1 732), i. 
260 sq. ; W. Winwood Reade, Savage 
Africa (London, 1863), p. 362. 


of all the crops are offered to him as his due, because 
they are thought to be produced by his power, and not 
by nature at the bidding of the Most High God. This 
power he boasts he can impart to others, when and to whom 
he pleases. He asserts that his body cannot die a natural 
death, and therefore when he knows he is near the end of 
his days, whether it is brought about by sickness or age, or 
whether he is deluded by the demon, he calls one of his 
disciples to whom he wishes to communicate his power, in 
order that he may succeed him. And having made him 
tie a noose to his neck he commands him to strangle him, 
or to knock him on the head with a great cudgel and kill 
him. His disciple obeys and sends him a martyr to the 
devil, to suffer torments with Lucifer in the flames for ever. 
This tragedy is enacted in public, in order that his successor 
may be manifested, who hath the power of fertilising the 
earth, the power having been imparted to him by the 
deceased ; otherwise, so they say, the earth would remain 
barren, and the world would perish. Oh too great foolish- 
ness and palpable blindness of the gentiles, to enlighten the 
eye of whose mind there would be needed the very hand of 
Christ whereby he opened the bodily eyes of him that had been 
born blind ! I know that in my time one of these magicians 
was cast into the sea, another into a river, a mother put to 
death with her son, and many more seized by our orders and 
banished." ^ The Ethiopian kings of Meroe were worshipped Ethiopian 
as gods ; but whenever the priests chose, they sent a messenger ^eroe°^ 
to the king, ordering him to die, and alleging an oracle of the 
gods as their authority for the command. This command the 
kings always obeyed down to the reign of Ergamenes, a con- 
temporary of Ptolemy H., King of Egypt. Having received 
a Greek education which emancipated him from the supersti- 
tions of his countrymen, Ergamenes ventured to disregard the 
command of the priests, and, entering the Golden Temple 
with a body of soldiers, put the priests to the sword.^ 

1 G. Merolla, Relatione del viaggio his Origin of Civilisation,^ pp. 358 sq. 

nel regno di Congo (Naples, 1726), p. In that version the native title of the 

76. The English version of this pas- pontiff is misspelt, 
sage (Pinkerton's Voyages and Travels, 

xvi. 228) has already been quoted by ^ Diodorus Siculus, iii. 6 ; Strabo, 

Sir John Lubbock (Lord Avebury) in xvii. i. 3, p. 822. 


Kings of Customs of the same sort appear to have prevailed 

Fazoqi on j ^j^j ^^mot\ down to modem times. Thus we are told 

the Blue ° -ni atm 

Nile. that in Fazoqi, a district in the valley of the Blue Nile, 
to the west of Abyssinia, it was customary, as late as the 
middle of the nineteenth century, to hang a king who was no 
longer beloved. His relatives and ministers assembled round 
him, and announced that as he no longer pleased the men, 
the women, the asses, the oxen, and the fowls of the country, 
it was better he should die. Once on a time, when a king 
was unwilling to take the hint, his own wife and mother 
urged him so strongly not to disgrace himself by disregarding 
the custom, that he submitted to his fate and was strung up 
in the usual way. In some tribes of Fazoqi the king had to 
administer justice daily under a certain tree. If from sick- 
ness or any other cause he was unable to discharge this 
duty for three whole days, he was hanged on the tree in a 
noose, which contained two razors so arranged that when 
the noose was drawn tight by the weight of the king's body 
they cut his throat.^ At Fazolglou an annual festival, which 
partook of the nature of a Saturnalia, was preceded by a 
formal trial of the king in front of his house. The judges 
were the chief men of the country. The king sat on his 
royal stool during the trial, surrounded by armed men, who 
were ready to carry out a sentence of death. A little way 
off a jackal and a dog were tied to a post. The conduct of 
the king during his year of office was discussed, complaints 
were heard, and if the verdict was unfavourable, the king 
was executed and his successor chosen from among the 
members of his family. But if the monarch was acquitted, 
the people at once paid their homage to him afresh, and the 
dog or the jackal was killed in his stead. This custom 
lasted down to the year 1837 or 1838, when king Yassin 
was thus condemned and executed.^ His nephew Assusa was 

' R. Lepsius, Letters from Egypt, ^ Brun-Rollet, Le Nil Blanc et le 

Ethiopia, and the peninsula of Sinai Soudan (Paris, 1855), pp. 2.s,% sq. For 

(London, 1853), pp. 202, 204. Ihave the orgiastic character of these annual 

to thank Dr. E. Westermarck for point- festivals, see id. p. 245. Fazolglou 

ing out these passages tome. Fazoqi lies is probably the same as Fazoqi. The 

in the fork between the Blue Nile and its people who practise the custom are 

tributary the Tumat. See J. Russeger, called Bertat by E. Marno (Keisen im 

Reisen in Europa, Asien und Afrika, Gebiete des blauen und weissen Nit 

ii. 2 (Stuttgart, 1844), p. 552 note. (Vienna, 1874), p. 68). 


compelled under threats of death to succeed him in the 
office.^ Afterwards it would seem that the death of the dog 
was regularly accepted as a substitute for the death of the 
king. At least this may be inferred from a later account of 
the Fazoql practice, which runs thus : " The meaning of 
another of their customs is quite obscure. At a certain 
time of the year they have a kind of carnival, where every 
one does what he likes best. Four ministers of the king 
then bear him on an anqareb out of his house to an open 
space of ground ; a dog is fastened by a long cord to one of 
the feet of the anqareb. The whole population collects 
round the place, streaming in on every side. They then 
throw darts and stones at the dog, till he is killed, after which 
the king is again borne into his house." ^ 

A custom of putting their divine kings to death at the shiiiuk 
first symptoms of infirmity or old age prevailed until lately, ^^'""^ °f 
if indeed it is even now extinct and not merely dormant, divine 
among the Shilluk of the White Nile, and in recent years it ^^"f^ '° 
has been carefully investigated by Dr. C. G. Seligmann, to 
whose researches I am indebted for the following detailed 
information on the subject.^ The Shilluk are a tribe or 
nation who inhabit a long narrow fringe of territory on the 
western bank of the White Nile from Kaka in the north to 
Lake No in the south, as well as a strip on the eastern bank 
of the river, which stretches from Fashoda to Taufikia and 
for some thirty-five miles up the Sobat River. The country 
of the Shilluk is almost entirely in grass, hence the principal 
wealth of the people consists in their flocks and herds, but 
they also grow a considerable quantity of the species of 
millet which is known as durra. But though the Shilluk 

' J. Russegger, Reisen in Europa, Ethiopia, and the peninsula of Sinai 

Asien und Afrika, ii. 2, p. 553. Rus- (London, 1853), p. 204. Lepsius's 

segger met Assusa in January 1838, and letter is dated " The Pyramids of Meroe, 

says that the king had then been a year 22nd April 1 844. " His informant was 

in office. He does not mention the name Osman Bey, who had lived for sixteen 

of the king's uncle who had, he tells us, years in these regions. An anqareb 

beenstrangledbythe chiefs; but I assume or angareb is a kind of bed made by 

that he was the Yassin who is mentioned stretching string or leather thongs over 

by Brun-RoUet. Russegger adds that an oblong wooden framework, 

thestranglingof the king was performed ^ I have to thank Dr. Sehgmann 

publicly, and in the most solemn manner, for his kindness and courtesy in trans- 

and was said to happen often in Fazoql mitting to me his unpublished account 

and the neighbourmg countries. and allowing me to draw on it at my 

2 R. Lepsius, Letters from Egypt, discretion. 

PT. Ill C 




. supposed 
to be 
tions of 
the semi- 
of the 

are mainly a pastoral people, they are not nomadic, but live 
in many settled villages. The tribe at present numbers about 
forty thousand souls, and is governed by a single king {ref), 
whose residence is at Fashoda. His subjects take great 
care of him, and hold him in much honour. In the old 
days his word was law and he was not suffered to go forth 
to battle. At the present day he still keeps up considerable 
state and exercises .much authority ; his decisions on all 
matters brought before him are readily obeyed ; and he 
never moves without a bodyguard of from twelve to twenty 
men. The reverence which the Shilluk pay to their king 
appears to arise chiefly from the conviction that he is a 
reincarnation of the spirit of Nyakang, the semi-divine hero 
who founded the dynasty and settled the tribe in their 
present territory, to which he is variously said to have 
conducted them either from the west or from the south. 
Tradition has preserved the pedigree of the kings from 
Nyakang to the present day. The number of kings recorded 
between Nyakang and the father of the reigning monarch is 
twenty, distributed over twelve generations ; but Dr. Selig^ 
mann is of opinion that many more must have reigned, and 
that the genealogy of the first six or seven kings, as given 
to him, has been much abbreviated. There seems to be no 
reason to doubt the historical character of all of them, 
though myths have gathered like clouds round the persons 
of Nyakang and his immediate successors. The Shilluk 
about Kodok (Fashoda) think of Nyakang as having been 
a man in appearance and physical qualities, though unlike 
his royal descendants of more recent times he did not die 
but simply disappeared. His holiness is manifested especi- 
ally by his relation to Juok, the great god of the Shilluk, 
who created man and is responsible for the order of nature. 
Juok is formless and invisible and like the air he is every- 
where at once. He is far above Nyakang and men alike, 
but he is not worshipped directly, and it is only through the 
intercession of Nyakang, whose favour the Shilluk secure 
by means of sacrifices, that Juok can be induced to send the 
needed rain for the cattle and the crops.^ In his character 

' As to Jiiok (Cuok), the supreme " Religion der Schilluk," Anthropos, 
being ofthe Shilluk, see P. W.Hofmayr, vi. (1911) pp. 120-122, whose account 


of rain-giver Nyakang is the great benefactor of the Shilluk. 
Their country, baked by the burning heat of the tropical 
sun, depends entirely for its fertility on the waters of heaven, 
for the people do not resort to artificial irrigation. When 
the rain falls, then the grass sprouts, the millet grows, the 
cattle thrive, and the people have food to eat. Drought brings 
famine and death in its train.-' Nyakang is said not only 
to have brought the Shilluk into their present land, but 
to have made them into a nation of warriors, divided the 
country among them, regulated marriage, and made the 
laws.^ The religion of the Shilluk at the present time con- 
sists mainly of the worship paid to this semi-divine hero, 
the traditionary ancestor of their kings. There seems to be 
no reason to doubt that the traditions concerning him are 
substantially correct ; in all probability he was simply a man 
whom the superstition of his fellows in his own and subse- 
quent ages has raised to the rank of a deity.' No less than The 
ten shrines are dedicated to his worship ; the three most NySfang 
famous are at Fashoda, Akurwa, and Fenikang. They 
consist of one or more huts enclosed by a fence ; generally 
there are several huts within the enclosure, one or more of 
them being occupied by the guardians of the shrine. These 
guardians are old men, who not only keep the hallowed 
spot scrupulously clean, but also act as priests, killing the 
sacrificial victims which are brought to the shrine, sharing 
their flesh, and taking the skins for themselves. All the 
shrines of Nyakang are called graves of Nyakang {kengo 
Nyakang), though it is well known that nobody is buried 
there.* Sacred spears are kept in all of them and are 
used to slaughter the victims offered in sacrifice at the 
shrines. The originals of these spears are said to have 
belonged to Nyakang and his companions, but they have 
disappeared and been replaced by others. 

agrees with the briefer one given by as the name of the first Shilluk king. 

Dr. C. G. Seligmann. Otiose supreme ^ p_ fff_ Hofmayr, oJ>. cit. p. 123. 

beings {dieux faineants) of this type, ^ This is the view both of Dr. C. G. 

who having made the world do not Seligmann and of Father P. W. Hof- 

meddle with it and to whom little or no mayr (op. cit. p. 123). 

worship is paid, are common in Africa. * The word kengo is applied only to 

1 P. W. Hofmayr, " Religion der the shrines of Nyakang and the graves 

Schilluk," Anthropos, vi. (191 1) pp. of the kings. Graves of commoners 

123, 125. This writer gives Nykang are called roro. 




at the 
shrines of 

at the 
shrines of 

Two great ceremonies are annually performed at the 
shrines of Nyakang : one of them is intended to ensure the 
fall of rain, the other is celebrated at harvest. At the 
rain-making ceremony, which is held before the rains at 
the beginning of the month alabor, a bullock is slain with 
a sacred spear before the door of the shrine, while the king 
stands by praying in a loud voice to Nyakang to send down 
the refreshing showers on the thirsty land. As much of 
the blood of the victim as possible is collected in a gourd 
and thrown into the river, perhaps as a rain-charm. This 
intention of the sacrifice comes out more plainly in a form 
of the ritual which is said to be observed at Ashop. There 
the sacrificial bullock is speared high up in the flank, so 
that the wound is not immediately fatal. Then the wounded 
animal is allowed and indeed encouraged to walk to and 
from the river before it sinks down and dies. In the blood 
that streams from its side on the ground the people may see 
a symbol of the looked-for rain.^ Care is taken not to break 
the bones of the animal, and they, like the blood, are thrown 
into the river. At the annual rain-making ceremony a cow 
is also dedicated to Nyakang : it is not killed but added to 
the sacred herd of the shrine. The other great annual 
ceremony observed at the shrines of Nyakang falls at harvest. 
When the millet has been reaped, every one brings a portion 
of the grain to a shrine of Nyakang, where it is ground into 
flour, which is made into porridge with water fetched from 
the river. Then some of the porridge is poured out on 
the threshold of the hut which the spirit of Nyakang is 
supposed to inhabit ; some of it is smeared on the outer 
walls of the building ; and some of it is emptied out on the 
ground outside. Even before harvest it is customary to 
bring some of the ripening grain from the fields and to 
thrust it into the thatch of the huts in the shrines, no doubt 
in order to secure the blessing of Nyakang on the crops. 
Sacrifices are also offered at these shrines for the benefit of sick 
people. A sufferer will bring or send a sheep to the nearest 
sanctuary, where the guardians will slaughter the animal with 
a sacred spear and pray for the patient's recovery. 

' On the use of flowing blood in Art and the Evolution of Kings, i. 
rain-making ceremonies see The Magic 256, 257 sq. 


It is a fundamental article of the Shilluk creed thatshiiiuk 
the spirit of the divine or semi-divine Nyakang is incarnate Jj^^f^^h' 
in the reigning king, who is accordingly himself invested when they 
to some extent with the character of a divinity. But while 0^11-^'^°° 
the Shilluk hold their kings in high, indeed religious rever- health or 
ence and take every precaution against their accidental strength. 
death, nevertheless they cherish "the conviction that the 
king must not be allowed to become ill or senile, lest with 
his diminishing vigour the cattle should sicken and fail to 
bear their increase, the crops should rot in the fields, and 
man, stricken with disease, should die in ever increasing 
numbers." ^ To prevent these calamities it used to be the 
regular custom with the Shilluk to put the king to death 
whenever he shewed signs of ill-health or failing strength. 
One of the fatal symptoms of decay was taken to be an 
incapacity to satisfy the sexual passions of his wives, of 
whom he has very many, distributed in a large number 
of houses at Fashoda. When this ominous weakness mani- 
fested itself, the wives reported it to the chiefs, who are popu- 
larly said to have intimated to the king his doom by spreading 
a white cloth over his face and knees as he lay slumbering in 
the heat of the sultry afternoon. Execution soon followed 
the sentence of death. A hut was specially built for the 
occasion : the king was led into it and lay down with his 
head resting on the lap of a nubile virgin : the door of the 
hut was then walled up ; and the couple were left without 
food, water, or fire to die of hunger and suffocation. This 
was the old custom, but it was abolished some five genera- 
tions ago on account of the excessive sufferings of one of 
the kings who perished in this way. He survived his com- 
panion for some days, and in the interval was so distressed 
by the stench of her putrefying body that he shouted to the 
people, whom he could hear moving outside, never again to 
let a king die in this prolonged and exquisite agony. After 
a time his cries died away into silence ; death had released 
him from his sufferings ; but since then the Shilluk have 
adopted a quicker and more merciful mode of executing 
their kings. What the exact form of execution has been in 
later times Dr. Seligmann found it very difficult to ascertain, 

1 Dr. C. G. Seligmann, The Shilluk Divine Kings (in manuscript). 


though with regard to the fact of the execution he tells us 

that there is not the least doubt. It is said that the chiefs 

announce his fate to the king, and that afterwards he is 

strangled in a hut which has been specially built for the 


Shiiiuk From Dr. Seligmann's enquiries it appears that not only 

formerly ^^^ ^^^ Shilluk king liable to be killed with due ceremony 

liable to be at the first symptoms of incipient decay, but even while he 

and wntd was yet in the prime of health and strength he might be 

at any time attacked at any time by a rival and have to defend his 

cUiim™nts crown in a combat to the death. According to the common 

to the Shilluk tradition any son of a king had the right thus to 

fight the king in possession and, if he succeeded in killing 

him, to reign in his stead. As every king had a large harem 

and many sons, the number of possible candidates for the 

throne at any time may well have been not inconsiderable, 

and the reigning monarch must have carried his life in his 

hand. But the attack on him could only take place with 

any prospect of success at night ; for during the day the 

king surrounded himself with his friends and bodyguards, 

and an aspirant to the throne could hardly hope to cut his 

way through them and strike home. It was otherwise at 

night. For then the guards were dismissed and the king 

was alone in his enclosure with his favourite wives, and there 

was no man near to defend him except a few herdsmen, 

whose huts stood a little way off. The hours of darkness 

were therefore the season of peril for the king. It is said 

that he used to pass them in constant watchfulness, prowling 

round his huts fully armed, peering into the blackest shadows, 

or himself standing silent and alert, like a sentinel on duty, 

in some dark corner. When at last his rival appeared, the 

fight would take place in grim silence, broken only by the 

clash of spears and shields, for it was a point of honour 

with the king not to call the herdsmen to his assistance.^ 

When the king did not perish in single combat, but was 

1 On this subject Dr. Seligmann whole of the historic period it has 

writes to me (March 9th, 191 1) as been superseded by the ceremonial 

follows : " The assumption of the killing of the king, but I regard these 

throne as the result of victory in single stories as folk-lore indicating what once 

combat doubtless occurred once; at really happened." 
the present day and perhaps for the 


put to death on the approach of sickness or old age, it became 
necessary to find a successor for him. Apparently the 
successor was chosen by the most powerful chiefs from 
among the princes (nidret), the sons either of the late king 
or of one of his predecessors. Details as to the mode of 
election are lacking. So far as Dr. Seligmann could ascer- 
tain, the kings elect shewed no reluctance to accept the fatal 
sovereignty ; indeed he was told a story of a man who 
clamoured to be made king for only one day, saying that 
he was perfectly ready to be killed after that. The age at 
which the king was killed would seem to have commonly 
been between forty and fifty.^ To the improvident and 
unimaginative savage the prospect of being put to death at 
the end of a set time, whether long or short, has probably 
few terrors ; and if it has any, we may suspect that they are 
altogether outweighed in his mind by the opportunities for 
immediate enjoyment of all kinds which a kingdom affords 
to his unbridled appetites and passions. 

An important part of the solemnities attending the Ceremonies 
accession of a Shilluk king appears to be intended to convey ^' "^®. 

° .'^ . . ^ accession 

to the new monarch the divine spirit of Nyakang, which has of a Shilluk 
been transmitted from the founder of the dynasty to all his ^°^' 
successors on the throne. For this purpose a sacred four- 
legged stool and a mysterious object which bears the name 
of Nyakang himself are brought with much solemnity from 
the shrine of Nyakang at Akurwa to the small village of 
Kwom near Fashoda, where the king elect and the chiefs 
await their arrival. The thing called Nyakang is said to be 
of cylindrical shape, some two or three feet long by six 
inches broad. The chief of Akurwa informed Dr. Seligmann 
that the object in question is a rude wooden figure of a man, 
which was fashioned long ago at the command of Nyakang 
in person. We may suppose that it represents the divine 
king himself and that it is, or was formerly, supposed to 
house his spirit, though the chief of Akurwa denied to Dr. 
Seligmann that it does so now. Be that as it may, the 
object plays a prominent part at the installation of a new 

1 These particulars I take from March 19 1 1). They are not men- 
letters of Dr. C. G. Seligmann's to tioned in the writer's paper on the 
me (dated 8th February and gth subject. 


king. When the men of Akurwa arrive at Kwom with the 

sacred stool and the image of Nyakang, as we may call it, they 

engage in a sham fight with the men who are waiting for 

them with the king elect. The weapons used on both sides 

are simply stalks of millet. Being victorious in the mock 

combat, the men of Akurwa escort the king to Fashoda, and 

some of them enter the shrine of Nyakang with the stool. 

After a short time they bring the stool forth again and set 

it on the ground outside of the sacred enclosure. Then the 

image of Nyakang is placed on the stool ; the king elect holds 

one leg of the stool and an important chief holds another. 

The king is surrounded by a crowd of princes and nobles, 

and near him stand two of his paternal aunts and two of his 

sisters. After that a bullock is killed and its flesh eaten by 

the men of certain families called ororo, who are said to be 

descended from the third of the Shilluk kings. Then the 

Akurwa men carry the image of Nyakang into the shrine, and 

the ororo men place the king elect on the sacred stool, where 

he remains seated for some time, apparently till sunset. 

When he rises, the Akurwa men carry the stool back into 

the shrine, and the king is escorted to three new huts, where 

he stays in seclusion for three days. On the fourth night 

he is conducted quietly, almost stealthily, to his royal 

residence at Fashoda, and next day he shews himself publicly 

to his subjects. The three new huts in which he spent the 

days of his seclusion are then broken up and their fragments 

cast into the river. The installation of a new king generally 

takes place about the middle of the dry season ; and it is 

said that the men of Akurwa tarry at Fashoda with the image 

of Nyakang till about the beginning of the rains. Before 

they leave Fashoda they sacrifice a bullock, and at every 

waddy or bed of a stream that they cross they kill a sheep. 

Worship Like Nyakang himself, their founder, each of the Shilluk 

ShiUuk '^^ kings after death is worshipped at a shrine, which is erected 

kings. over his grave, and the grave of a king is always in the 

village where he was born.^ The tomb-shrine of a king 

' When one of the king's wives is she remains under the charge of the 

with child, she' remains at Fashoda till village chief until she has finished 

the fourth or fifth month of her preg- nursing the child. Afterwards she 

nancy ; she is then sent away to a returns to Fashoda, but the child 

village, not necessarily her own, where invariably remains in the village of his 


resembles the shrine of Nyakang, consisting of a few huts 
enclosed by a fence ; one of the huts is built over the 
king's grave, the others are occupied by the guardians of 
the shrine. Indeed the shrines of Nyakang and the shrines 
of the kings are scarcely to be distinguished from each 
other, and the religious rituals observed at all of them 
are identical in form and vary only in matters of detail, 
the variations being due apparently to the far greater 
sanctity attributed to the shrines of Nyakang. The grave- 
shrines of the kings are tended by certain old men or women, 
who correspond to the guardians of the shrines of Nyakang. 
They are usually widows or old men-servants of the deceased 
king, and when they die they are succeeded in their office 
by their descendants. Moreover, cattle are dedicated to the 
grave-shrines of the kings and sacrifices are offered at them 
just as at the shrines of Nyakang. Thus when the millet 
crop threatens to fail or a murrain to break out among the 
cattle, either Nyakang himself or one of his successors on 
the throne will appear to somebody in a dream and demand 
a sacrifice. The dream is reported to the king, who there- 
upon at once sends a cow and a bullock to one or more of 
the shrines of Nyakang, if it was he who appeared in the 
vision, or to the grave-shrine of the particular king whom 
the dreamer saw in his dream. The bullock is then sacrificed 
and the cow added to the sacred herd belonging to the 
shrine. Further, the harvest ceremony which is performed 
at the shrines of Nyakang is usually, though not necessarily, 
performed also at the grave-shrines of the kings ; and, lastly, 
sick folk send animals to be sacrificed as offerings on their 
behalf at the shrines of the kings just as they send them to 
the shrines of Nyakang. 

Sick people have, indeed, a special reason for sacrificing sick 
to the spirits of the dead kings in the hope of recovery, '^°^l ^""^ 
inasmuch as one of the commonest causes of sickness, supposed 
according to the Shilluk, is the entrance of one of these poj^gj^g^ 
royal spirits into the body of the sufferer, whose first care, by the 
therefore, is to rid himself as quickly as possible of his ^^ad^ ° 

or her birth and is brought up there. they may happen to die, are buried in kings. 
All royal children of either sex, in the village where they were born, 
whatever part of the Shilluk territory 




august but unwelcome guest. Apparently, however, it is 
only the souls of the early kings who manifest themselves in 
this disagreeable fashion. Dr. Seligmann met with a woman, 
for example, who had been ill and who attributed her illness 
to the spirit of Dag, the second of the Shilluk kings, which 
had taken possession of her body. But a sacrifice of two 
sheep had induced the spirit to quit her, and she wore anklets 
of beads, with pieces of the ears of the sheep strung on them, 
which she thought would effectually guard her against the 
danger of being again possessed by the soul of the dead 
king. Nor is it only in sickness that the souls of dead kings 
are thought to take possession of the bodies of the living. 
Certain men and women, who bear the name of ajuago, 
are believed to be permanently possessed by the spirit of 
one or other of the early kings, and in virtue of this 
inspiration they profess to heal the sick and do a brisk 
trade in amulets. The first symptom of possession may 
take the form of illness or of a dream from which the sleeper 
awakes trembling and agitated. A long and complicated 
ceremony follows to abate the extreme force of the spiritual 
manifestations in the new medium, for were these to continue 
in their first intensity he would not dare to approach his 
women. But whichever of the dead kings may manifest 
himself to the living, whether in dreams or in the form of 
bodily possession, his spirit is deemed, at least by many of 
the Shilluk, to be identical with that of Nyakang ; they do 
not clearly distinguish, if indeed they distinguish at all, 
between the divine spirit of the founder of the dynasty and 
its later manifestations in all his royal successors. 

In general the principal element in the religion of the 

Shilluk would seem to be the worship which they pay to 

their sacred or divine kings, whether dead or alive. These 

are believed to be animated by a single divine spirit, which 

, . has been transmitted from the semi-mythical, but probably 

the worship , . , . , , 

of their m substance historical, founder of the dynasty through all 
his successors to the present day. Yet the divine spirit, as 
Dr. Seligmann justly observes, is clearly not thought of as 
congenital in the members of the royal house ; it is only con- 
veyed to each king on his accession by means of the mysterious 
object called Nyakang, in which, as Dr. Seligmann with great 


in the 
of the 
Shilluk is 



probability conjectures, the holy spirit of Nyakang may be 
supposed to reside. Hence, regarding their kings as incarnate The 
divinities on whom the welfare of men, of cattle, and of the '''"F P"' 

.... . , r^, , , '° death 

corn implicitly depends, the Shilluk naturally pay them the in order to 
greatest respect and take every care of them ; and however ^heiVdivine 
strange it may seem to us, their custom of putting the divine spirit from 
king to death as soon as he shews signs of ill-health or^^^^^^X. 
failing strength springs directly from their profound venera- would 
tion for him and from their anxiety to preserve him, or th^i^aiiy 
rather the divine spirit by which he is animated, in the most affect the 
perfect state of efficiency : nay, we may go further and say cltfie, and 
that their practice of regicide is the best proof they can give mankind, 
of the high regard in which they hold their kings. For they 
believe, as we have seen, that the king's life or spirit is so 
sympathetically bound up with the prosperity of the whole 
country, that if he fell ill or grew senile the cattle would 
sicken and cease to multiply, the crops would rot in the 
fields, and men would perish of widespread disease. Hence, 
in their opinion, the only way of averting these calamities is 
to put the king to death while he is still hale and hearty, in 
order that the divine spirit which he has inherited from his 
predecessors may be transmitted in turn by him to his 
successor while it is still in full vigour knd has not yet been 
impaired by the weakness of disease and old age. In this 
connexion the particular symptom which is commonly said 
to seal the king's death-warrant is highly significant ; when 
he can no longer satisfy the passions of his numerous wives, 
in other words, when he has ceased, whether partially or 
wholly, to be able to reproduce his kind, it is time for him to 
die and to make room for a more vigorous successor. Taken 
along with the other reasons which are alleged for putting 
the king to death, this one suggests that the fertility of men, 
of cattle, and of the crops is believed to depend sympathetic- 
ally on the generative power of the king, so that the 
complete failure of that power in him would involve a 
corresponding failure in men, animals, and plants, and would 
thereby entail at no distant date the entire extinction of all 
life, whether human, animal, or vegetable. No wonder, that 
with such a danger before their eyes the Shilluk should be 
most careful not to let the king die what we should call a 


natural death of sickness or old age. It is characteristic of 
their attitude towards the death of the kings that they refrain 
from speaking of it as death : they do not say that a king 
has died but simply that he has " gone away " like his divine 
ancestors Nyakang and Dag, the two first kings of the 
dynasty, both of whom are reported not to have died but to 
have disappeared. The similar legends of the mysterious dis- 
appearance of early kings in other lands, for example at Rome 
and in Uganda,^ may well point to a similar custom of putting 
them to death for the purpose of preserving their life. 
ParaUei On the wholc the theory and practice of the divine kings of 

the*Shiiiuk ^^ Shilluk correspond very nearly to the theory and practice 
kings and of the priests of Nemi, the Kings of the Wood, if my view of 
oMhe'"^ the latter is correct.^ In both we see a series of divine kings 
Wood at on whose life the fertility of men, of cattle, and of vegeta- 
tion is believed to depend, and who are put to death, 
whether in single combat or otherwise, in order that 
their divine spirit may be transmitted to their successors 
in full vigour, uncontaminated by the weakness and 
decay of sickness or old age, because any such degenera- 
tion on the part of the king would, in the opinion of his 
worshippers, entail a corresponding degeneration on man- 
kind, on cattle, and on the crops. Some points in this 
explanation of the custom of putting divine kings to death, 
particularly the method of transmitting their divine souls to 
their successors, will be dealt with more fully in the sequel. 
Meantime we pass to other examples of the general practice. 
The The Dinka are a congeries of independent tribes in the 

the Upper Valley of the White Nile, whose territory, lying mostly on the 
Nile- eastern bank of the river and stretching from the sixth to the 
twelfth degree of North Latitude, has been estimated to com- 
prise between sixty and seventy thousand square miles. They 
are a tall long-legged people rather slender than fat, with 
curly hair and a complexion of the deepest black. Though 
ill-fed, they are strong and healthy and in general reach 
a great age. The nation embraces a number of independent 

1 As to the disappearance of the J. Roscoe, The Baganda (London, 

early Roman kings see The Magic Art 191 1), p. 214. 

and the Evolution of Kings, vol. ii. pp. 2 gee The Magic Art and the 

312 sqq. ; as to the disappearance of Evolution of Kings, i. i sqq., ii. 376 

the early kings of Uganda, see the Rev. sqq. 


tribes, and each tribe is mainly composed of the owners of 
cattle ; for the Dinka are essentially a pastoral people, 
passionately devoted to the care of their numerous herds 
of oxen, though they also keep sheep and goats, and the 
women cultivate small quantities of millet (durra) and 
sesame. The tribes have no political union. Each village 
forms a separate community, pasturing its herds together in 
the same grass-land. With the change of the seasons the 
people migrate with their flocks and herds to and from the 
banks of the Nile. In summer, when the plains near the great 
river are converted into swamps and covered with clouds of 
mosquitoes, the herdsmen and their families drive their beasts 
to the higher land of the interior, where the animals find firm 
ground, abundant fodder, and pools of water at which to slake 
their thirst in the fervour of the noonday heat. Here in the 
clearings of the forest the community takes up its abode, each 
family dwelling by itself in one or more conical huts enclosed 
by a strong fence of stakes and thorn-bushes. It is in the 
patches of open ground about these dwellings that the women 
grow their scanty crops of millet and sesame. The mode of 
tillage is rude. The stumps of the trees which have been 
felled are left standing to a height of several feet ; the ground 
is hacked by the help of a tool between a hoe and a spade, 
and the weeds are uprooted with the hand. Such as it is, 
the crop is exposed to the ravages of apes and elephants by 
night and of birds by day. The hungry blacks do not 
always wait till the corn is ripe, but eat much of it while 
the ears are still green. The cattle are kept in separate 
parks {murahs) away from the villages. It is in the season 
of the summer rains that the Dinka are most happy and 
prosperous. Then the cattle find sweet grass, plentiful 
water, coolness and shade in the forest ; then the people 
subsist in comfort on the milk of their flocks and herds, 
supplementing it with the millet which they reap and the 
wild fruits which they gather in the forest ; then they brew 
the native beer, then they marry and dance by night under 
the bright moon of the serene tropical sky. But in autumn 
a great change passes over the liie of the community. 
When October has come, the rains are over, the grass of 
the pastures is eaten down or withered, the pools are dry ; 




the Supreme 
Being of 
the Dinka. 

of the 

thirst compels the whole village, with its lowing herds and 
bleating flocks, to migrate to the neighbourhood of the river. 
Now begins a time of privation and suffering. There is no 
grass for the cattle save in some marshy spots, where the 
herdsman must fight his rivals in order to win a meagre supply 
of fodder for his starveling beasts. There is no milk for the 
people, no fruits on the trees, except a bitter sort of acorns, 
from which a miserable flour is ground to stay the pangs of 
hunger. The lean and famished natives are driven to fish in 
the river for the tubers of water-lilies, to grub in the earth for 
roots, to boil the leaves of trees, and as a last resource to 
drink the blood drawn from the necks of their wretched cattle. 
The gaunt appearance of the people at this season fills the 
beholder with horror. The herds are decimated by famine, 
but even more beasts perish by dysentery and other diseases 
when the first rains cause the fresh grass to sprout.^ 

It is no wonder that the rain, on which the Dinka are 
so manifestly dependent for their subsistence, should play 
a great part in their religion and superstition. They 
worship a supreme being whose name of Dengdit means 
literally Great Rain.^ It was he who created the world and 
established the present order of things, and it is he who sends 
down the rain from the " rain-place," his home in the upper 
regions of the air. But according to the Niel Dinka this 
great being was once incarnate in human form. Born of a 
woman, who descended from the sky, he became the ancestor 
of a clan which has the rain for its totem ; for the recent 
researches of Dr. C. G. Seligmann have proved that every 
Dinka tribe is divided into a number of clans, each of which 

1 " E. de Pniyssenaere's Reisen und 
Forschungen im Gebiete des Weissen 
und Blauen N\\," Petermann'sMiithei- 
lungen, Ergdnzungsheft, No. 50 (Gotha, 
1877), pp. 18-23. Compare G. 
Schweinfiirth, The Heart of Africa, 
Third Edition (London, 1878), i. 48 
sqq. In the text I have followed de 
Pruyssenaere's description of the priva- 
tions endured by the Dinka in the dry 
season. But that description is perhaps 
only applicable in seasons of unusual 
drought, for Dr. C. G. Seligmann, 
writing from personal observation, in- 
forms me that he regards the description 

as much overdrawn ; in an average 
year, he tells me, the cattle do not die of 
famine and the natives are not starving. 
According to his information the drink- 
ing of the blood of their cattle is a 
luxury in which the Dinka indulge 
themselves at any time of the year. 

2 For this and the following informa- 
tion as to the religion, totemism, and 
rain-makers of the Dinka I am indebted 
to the kindness of Dr. C. G. Selig- 
mann, who investigated the Shilluk 
and Dinka in 1909- 19 10 and has 
most obligingly placed his manuscript 
materials at my disposal. 


reveres as its totem a species of animals or plants or other 
natural objects, such as rain or fire. Animal totems seem 
to be the commonest ; amongst them are the lion, the 
elephant, the crocodile, the hippopotamus, the fox, the 
hyaena, and a species of small birds called amur, clouds of 
which infest the cornfields and do great damage to the 
crops. Each clan speaks of its totemic animal or plant 
as its ancestor and refrains from injuring and eating it. 
Men of the Crocodile clan, for example, call themselves 
" Brothers of the Crocodile," and will neither kill nor eat the 
animal ; indeed they will not even eat out of any vessel 
which has held crocodile flesh. And as they do not injure 
crocodiles, so they imagine that their crocodile kinsfolk will 
not injure them ; hence men of this clan swim freely in the 
river, even by night, without fear of being attacked by the 
dangerous reptiles. And when the totem is a carnivorous 
animal, members of the clan may propitiate it by killing sheep 
and throwing out the flesh to be devoured by their animal 
brethren either on the outskirts of the village or in the river. 
Members of the Small Bird {amur) clan perform ceremonies 
to prevent the birds from injuring the crops. The relation- 
ship between a clan and its animal ancestor or totem is 
commonly explained by a legend that in the beginning an 
ancestress gave birth to twins, one of whom was the totemic 
animal and the other the human ancestor. Like most totemic 
clans, the clans of the Dinka are exogamous, that is, no man 
may marry a woman of his own clan. The descent of the 
clans is in the paternal line ; in other words, every man and 
woman belongs to his or her father's clan, not to that of his 
or her mother. But the Rain clan of the Niel Dinka has for 
its ancestor, as we have seen, the supreme god himself, who 
deigned to be born of a woman and to live for a long time 
among men, ruling over them, till at last he grew very old and 
disappeared appropriately, like Romulus, in a great storm of 
rain. Shrines erected in his honour appear to be scattered 
all over the Dinka country and offerings are made at them. 

Perhaps without being unduly rash we may conjecture Rain- 
that the great god of the Dinka, who gives them the rain, "^^ng t^e 
was indeed, what tradition represents him as having been, a Dinka! 
man among men, in fact a human rain-maker, whom at his 


Rain death the superstition of his fellows promoted to the rank 

aJ^ong the of ^ ^eity above the clouds. Be that as it may, the human 
Dinka. rain-maker {baiii) is a very important personage among the 
Dinka to this day ; indeed the men in authority whom 
travellers dub chiefs or sheikhs are in fact the actual or 
potential rain-makers of the tribe or community.-' Each of 
them is believed to be animated by the spirit of a great 
rain-maker, which has come down to him through a succes- 
sion of rain-makers ; and in virtue of this inspiration a 
successful rain-maker enjoys very great power and is con- 
sulted on all important matters. For example, in the Bor 
tribe of Dinka at the present time there is an old but active 
rain-maker named Biyordit, who is reputed to have immanent 
in him a great and powerful spirit called Lerpiu, and by 
reason of this reputation he exercises immense influence over 
all the Dinka of the Bor and Tain tribes. While the mighty 
spirit Lerpiu is supposed to be embodied in the rain-maker, 
it is also thought to inhabit a certain hut which serves as a 
shrine. In front of the hut stands a post to which are 
fastened the horns of many bullocks that have been sacrificed 
to Lerpiu ; and in the hut is kept a very sacred spear which 
bears the name of Lerpiu and is said to have fallen from 
heaven six generations ago. As fallen stars are also called 
Lerpiu, we may suspect that an intimate connexion is 
supposed to exist between meteorites and the spirit which 
animates the rain-maker ; nor would such a connexion seem 
unnatural to the savage, who observes that meteorites and 
rain alike descend from the sky. In spring, about the 
month of April, when the new moon is a few days old, a 
sacrifice of bullocks is offered to Lerpiu for the purpose of 
inducing him to move Dengdit, the great heavenly rain- 
maker, to send down rain on the parched and thirsty earth. 
Two bullocks are led twice round the shrine and afterwards tied 
by the rain-maker to the post in front of it. Then the drums 
beat and the people, old and young, men and women, dance 
round the shrine and sing, while the beasts are being sacrificed, 
" Lerpiu, our ancestor, we have brought you a sacrifice. Be 

' On the importance of the rain- Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings, 
makers among the Dinka and other i. 345 sqq. 
tribes of the Upper Nile, see The 



pleased to cause rain to fall." The blood of the bullocks is 
collected in a gourd, boiled in a pot on the fire, and eaten by 
the old and important people of the clan. The horns of the 
animals are attached to the post in front of the shrine. 

In spite, or rather in virtue, of the high honour in which Dinka 
he is held, no Dinka rain-maker is allowed to die a natural ™?" 

makers not 

death of sickness or old age; for the Dinka believe that if allowed 
such an untoward event were to happen, the tribe would „" turaf 
suffer from disease and famine, and the herds would not death. 
yield their increase. So when a rain-maker feels that he is 
growing old and infirm, he tells his children that he wishes 
to die. Among the Agar Dinka a large grave is dug and 
the rain-maker lies down in it on his right side with his head 
resting on a skin. He is surrounded by his friends and 
relatives, including his younger children ; but his elder 
children are not allowed to approach the grave lest in their 
grief and despair they should do themselves a bodily injury. 
For many hours, generally for more than a day, the rain- 
maker lies without eating or drinking. From time to time he 
speaks to the people, recalling the past history of the tribe, 
reminding them how he has ruled and advised them, and 
instructing them how they are to act in the future. Then, 
when he has concluded his admonition, he tells them that it 
is finished and bids them cover him up. So the earth is 
thrown down on him as he lies in the grave, and he soon 
dies of suffocation. Such, with minor variations, appears to 
be the regular end of the honourable career of a rain-maker 
in all the Dinka tribes. The Khor-Adar Dinka told Dr. 
Seligmann that when they have dug the grave for their rain- 
maker they strangle him in his house. The father and 
paternal uncle of one of Dr. Seligmann's informants had both 
been rain-makers and both had been killed in the most regular 
and orthodox fashion. Even if a rain-maker is quite young he 
will be put to death should he seem likely to perish of disease. 
Further, every precaution is taken to prevent a rain-maker 
from dying an accidental death, for such an end, though not 
nearly so serious a matter as death from illness or old age, 
would be sure to entail sickness on the tribe. As soon as a 
rain-maker is killed, his valuable spirit is supposed to pass to a 
suitable successor, whether a son or other near blood relation. 

PT. Ill D 




put to 
death in 
and other 
parts of 

In the Central African kingdom of Unyoro down to 
recent years custom required that as soon as the king fell 
seriously ill or began to break up from age, he should die by 
his own hand ; for, according to an old prophecy, the 
throne would pass away from the dynasty if ever the king 
were to die a natural death. He killed himself by 
draining a poisoned cup. If he faltered or were too ill to 
ask for the cup, it was his wife's duty to administer the 
poison.^ When the king of Kibanga, on the Upper 
Congo, seems near his end, the sorcerers put a rope round 
his neck, which they draw gradually tighter till he dies.^ 
If the king of Gingero happens to be wounded in war, he is 
put to death by his comrades, or, if they fail to kill him, by 
his kinsfolk, however hard he may beg for mercy. They 
say they do it that he may not die by the hands of his 
enemies.'' The Jukos are a heathen tribe of the Benue 
river, a great tributary of the Niger. In their country " the 
town of Gatri is ruled by a king who is elected by the 
big men of the town as follows. When in the opinion of 
the big men the king has reigned long enough, they give 
out that ' the king is sick ' — a formula understood by all to 
mean that they are going to kill him, though the intention 
is never put more plainly. They then decide who is to be 
the next king. How long he is to reign is settled by the 
influential men at a meeting ; the question is put and 
answered by each man throwing on the ground a little piece 
of stick for each year he thinks the new king should rule. 
The king is then told, and a great feast prepared, at which 
the king gets drunk on guinea-corn beer. After that he is 
speared, and the man who was chosen becomes king. Thus 
each Juko king knows that he cannot have very many more 
years to live, and that he is certain of his predecessor's fate. 
This, however, does not seem to frighten candidates. The 

1 Emin Pasha in Central Africa, 
being a Collection of his Letters and 

fournals (London, 1888), p. 91 ; J. G. 
Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy, ii. 
529 sg. (from information given by the 
Rev. John Roscoe). 

2 Father Guilleme, in Annates de la 
Propagation de la Foi, Ix. (1888) p. 258 ; 
id., " Credenze religiose dei Negri di 

Kibanga nell' Alto Congo,'' Archivio 
per lo studio delle tradizioni popolari, 
vii. (i888) p. 231. 

^ The Travels of the Jesuits in 
Ethiopia, collected and historically 
digested by F. Balthazar Tellez, of the 
Society of Jesus (London, 1710), p. 
197. We may compare the death of 
Saul (l Samuel, xxxi. 3-6). 


same custom of king-killing is said to prevail at Quonde and 

Wukari as well as at Gatri." ^ In the three Hausa kingdoms 

of Gobir, Katsina, and Daura, in Northern Nigeria, as soon 

as a king shewed signs of failing health or growing infirmity, 

an official who bore the title of Killer of the Elephant 

{kariagiwd) appeared and throttled him by holding his 

windpipe. The king elect was afterwards conducted to the 

centre of the town, called Head of the Elephant {kan giwd), 

where he was made to lie down on a bed. Then a black 

ox was slaughtered and its blood allowed to pour all over 

his body. Next the ox was flayed, and the remains of the 

dead king, which had been disembowelled and smoked for 

seven days over a slow fire, were wrapt up in the hide and 

dragged along the ground to the place of burial, where they 

were interred in a circular pit. After his bath of ox blood 

the new king had to remain for seven days in his mother's 

house, undergoing ablutions daily. On the eighth day he 

was conducted in state to his palace. In the kingdom of 

Daura the new monarch had moreover to step over the 

corpse of his predecessor.^ 

The Matiamvo is a great king or emperor in the interior The 
of Angola. One of the inferior kings of the country, ^^^^J^ 
by name Challa, gave to a Portuguese expedition the 
following account of the manner in which the Matiamvo 
comes by his end. " It has been customary," he said, 
" for our Matiamvos to die either in war or by a violent 
death, and the present Matiamvo must meet this last 
fate, as, in consequence of his great exactions, he has 
lived long enough. When we come to this understanding, 
and decide that he should be killed, we invite him to make 
war with our enemies, on which occasion we all accompany 
him and his family to the war, when we lose some of our 
people. If he escapes unhurt, we return to the war again 
and fight for three or four days. We then suddenly abandon 
him and his family to their fate, leaving him in the enemy's 
hands. Seeing himself thus deserted, he causes his throne 
to be erected, and, sitting down, calls his family around him. 

I Lieut. H. Pope-Henncssy, "Notes ^ J. G. Frazer, Totemism and Exo- 

on the Jukos and other Tribes of the gamy, ii. 608, on the authority of Mr. 

Middle Benue,"/""""^'?/'^'^''^'*''^''''" ^- ^- P^'^er, Resident in Charge of 

pological Institute, xxx. (1900) p. (29). Katsina. 





kings put 
to death 
on the 
of old age. 

He then orders his mother to approach ; she kneels at his 
feet ; he first cuts off her head, then decapitates his sons in 
succession, next his wives and relatives, and, last of all, his 
most beloved wife, called Anacullo. This slaughter being 
accomplished, the Matiamvo, dressed in all his pomp, awaits 
his own death, which immediately follows, by an officer sent 
by the powerful neighbouring chiefs, Caniquinha and Canica. 
This officer first cuts off his legs and arms at the joints, and 
lastly he cuts off his head ; after which the head of the 
officer is struck off. All the potentates retire from the encamp- 
ment, in order not to witness his death. It is my duty to 
remain and witness his death, and to mark the place where 
the head and arms have been deposited by the two great chiefs, 
the enemies of the Matiamvo. They also take possession 
of all the property belonging to the deceased monarch and 
his family, which they convey to their own residence. I 
then provide for the funeral of the mutilated remains of the 
late Matiamvo, after which I retire to his capital and proclaim 
the new government. I then return to where the head, legs, and 
arms have been deposited, and, for forty slaves, I ransom them, 
together with the merchandise and other property belonging 
to the deceased, which I give up to the new Matiamvo, who 
has been proclaimed. This is what has happened to many 
Matiamvos, and what must happen to the present one." '^ 

It appears to have been a Zulu custom to put the king 
to death as soon as he began to have wrinkles or grey hairs. 
At least this seems implied in the following passage written 
by one who resided for some time at the court of the 
notorious Zulu tyrant Chaka, in the early part of the nine- 
teenth century : " The extraordinary violence of the king's 
rage with me was mainly occasioned by that absurd nostrum, 
the hair oil, with the notion of which Mr. Farewell had 
impressed him as being a specific for removing all indications 
of age. From the first moment of his having heard that 
such a preparation was attainable, he evinced a solicitude to 
procure it, and on every occasion never forgot to remind us 
of his anxiety respecting it ; more especially on our departure 
on the mission his injunctions were particularly directed to 

' F. T. Valdez, Six Years of a Traveller's Life in Western Africa (London, 
1 86 1), ii. 194 sq. 


this object. It will be seen that it is one of the barbarous 
customs of the Zoolas in their choice or election of their 
kings that he must neither have wrinkles nor grey hairs, as 
they are both distinguishing marks of disqualification for 
becoming a monarch of a warlike people. It is also equally 
indispensable that their king should never exhibit those 
proofs of having become unfit and incompetent to reign ; it 
is therefore important that they should conceal these indica- 
tions so long as they possibly can. Chaka had become 
greatly apprehensive of the approach of grey hairs ; which 
would at once be the signal for him to prepare to make his 
exit from this sublunary world, it being always followed by the 
death of the monarch." ^ The writer to whom we are indebted 
for this instructive anecdote of the hair-oil omits to specify the 
mode in which a grey-haired and wrinkled Zulu chief used 
" to make his exit from this sublunary world " ; but on analogy 
we may conjecture that he did so by the simple and perfectly 
sufficient process of being knocked on the head. 

The custom of putting kings to death as soon as they Kings of 
suffered from any personal defect prevailed two centuries p°[^(Q 
ago in the Caffre kingdom of Sofala, to the north of the death on 
present Zululand. We have seen that these kings of Sofala, bodnT 
each of whom bore the official name of Quiteve, were regarded blemishes, 
as gods by their people, being entreated to give rain or sun- 
shine, according as each might be wanted.^ Nevertheless a 
slight bodily blemish, such as the loss of a tooth, was con- 
sidered a sufficient cause for putting one of these god-men 
to death, as we learn from the following passage of an old 
Portuguese historian : " It was formerly the custom of the 
kings of this land to commit suicide by taking poison when 
any disaster or natural physical defect fell upon them, such 
as impotence, infectious disease, the loss of their front teeth, 
by which they were disfigured, or any other deformity or 
affliction. To put an end to such defects they killed them- 
selves, saying that the king should be free from any blemish, 
and if not, it was better for his honour that he should die 
and seek another life where he would be made whole, for there 

1 Nathaniel Isaacs, Travels and 232, 290 sq. 
Adventures in Eastern Africa (Lon- ^ The Magic Art and the Evolution 

don, 1836), i. 295 sq., compare pp. of Kings, i. 392. 


everything was perfect. But the Quiteve who reigned when 
I was in those parts would not imitate his predecessors in 
this, being discreet and dreaded as he was ; for having lost 
a front tooth he caused it to be proclaimed throughout the 
kingdom that all should be aware that he had lost a tooth 
and should recognise him when they saw him without it, and 
if his predecessors killed themselves for such things they 
were very foolish, and he would not do so ; on the contrary, 
he would be very sorry when the time came for him to die a 
natural death, for his life was very necessary to preserve his 
kingdom and defend it from his enemies ; and he recom- 
mended his successors to follow his example." ^ The same 
historian tells us that " near the kingdom of Quiteve is 
another of which Sedanda is king, the laws and customs of 
which are very similar to those of Quiteve, all these Kaffirs 
being of the same nation, and these two kingdoms having 
formerly been one, as I shall relate hereafter. When I was 
in Sofala it happened that King Sedanda was seized with a 
severe and contagious leprosy, and seeing that his complaint 
was incurable, having named the prince who was to succeed 
him, he took poison and died, according to the custom of those 
kings when they are afflicted with any physical deformity."^ 
Kings The king of Sofala who dared to survive the loss of his 

to'be'^™- front tooth was thus a bold reformer like Ergamenes, king 
blemished, of Ethiopia. We may conjecture that the ground for putting 
the Ethiopian kings to death was, as in the case of the Zulu 
and Sofala kings, the appearance on their person of any 
bodily defect or sign of decay ; and that the oracle which 
the priests alleged as the authority for the royal execution 
was to the effect that great calamities would result from the 
reign of a king who had any blemish on his body ; just as 
an oracle warned Sparta against a " lame reign," that is, the 
reign of a lame king.* It is some confirmation of this con- 
jecture that the kings of Ethiopia were chosen for their size, 

' J. dos Santos, "Eastern Ethiopia," enriched the unadorned simplicity of 

in G. McCall Theal's Records of South- the Portuguese historian's style with 

eastern Africa, v\\. {xijoVf^^. l<i\ sq. "the scythe of time" and other 

A more highly - flavoured and full- flowers of rhetoric, 

bodied, though less slavishly accurate, ^ J. dos Santos, op. cit. p. 193. 

translation of this passage is given in ^ Xenophon, Hellenica, iii. 3. 3 ; 

Pinkerton's Voyages and Travels, xvi. Plutarch, Agesilaus, 3 ; id., Lysander, 

684, where the EngUsh translator has 22 ; Pausanias, iii. 8. 9. 


strength, and beauty long before the custom of killing them 
was abolished.^ To this day the Sultan of Wadai must 
have no obvious bodily defect, and the king of Angoy cannot 
be crowned if he ,has a single blemish, such as a broken 
or a filed tooth or the scar of an old wound.^ According to 
the Book of Acaill and many other authorities no king who 
was afflicted with a personal blemish might reign over 
Ireland at Tara. Hence, when the great King Cormac Mac 
Art lost one eye by an accident, he at once abdicated.' It 
is only natural, therefore, to suppose, especially with the 
other African examples before us, that any bodily defect or 
symptom of old age appearing on the person of the Ethiopian 
monarch was the signal for his execution. At a later time Courtiers 
it is recorded that if the king of Ethiopia became maimed [^^["^te'^ '° 
in any part of his body all his courtiers had to suffer the their 
same mutilation.* But this rule may perhaps have been ^°^^'''='S°- 
instituted at the time when the custom of killing the king 
for any personal defect was abolished ; instead of compelling 
the king to die because, for example, he had lost a tooth, all 
his subjects would be obliged to lose a tooth, and thus the 
invidious superiority of the subjects over the king would be 
cancelled. A rule of this sort is still observed in the same 
region at the court of the Sultans of Darfur. When the 
Sultan coughs, every one makes the sound ts is by striking 
the tongue against the root of the upper teeth ; when he 
sneezes, the whole assembly utters a sound like the cry of 
the jeko ; when he falls off his horse, all his followers must 
fall off likewise ; if any one of them remains in the saddle, no 
matter how high his rank, he is laid on the ground and 
beaten.* At the court of the king of Uganda in central 

1 Herodotus, iii. 20; Aristotle, /"oli- Kitste (Jena, 1874-75), i- 220. 
;zVj,iv. 4. 4.; Athenaeus, xiii. 20, p. 566. ^ P. W. Joyce, Social History of 
According to Nicolaus Damascenus ^Ki:/««;7?-«/a«rf(London, 1903), i. 311. 
{Fr. 142, in Fragmenta historicorum * Strabo, xvii. 2. 3, p. 823 ; Dio- 
Graecorum, ed. C. Miiller, iii. p. 463), dorus Siculus, iii. 7. 

the handsomest and bravest man was * Mohammed Ebn-Omar El-Tounsy, 

only raised to the throne when the- king Voyage au Darfour (Paris, 1845), pp. 

had no heirs, the heirs being the sons 162 sq.; Travels of an Arab Merchant 

of his sisters. But this limitation is not in Soudan, abridged from the French 

mentioned by the other authorities. by Bayle St. John (London, 1854), p. 

2 G. Nachtigal, Sahard und SAddn, -]%; Bulletin de la SociM de Giographie 
iii. (Leipsic, 1889) p. 225 ; A. Bastian, (Paris), IVme Serie, iv. (1852) pp. 
Die deutsche Expedition an der Loango- 539 sq. 


Africa, when the king laughs, every one laughs ; when he 
sneezes, every one sneezes ; when he has a cold, every one 
pretends to have a cold ; when he has his hair cut, so has 
everybody.^ At the court of Boni in Celebes it is a rule 
that whatever the king does all the courtiers must do. If 
he stands, they stand ; if he sits, they sit ; if he falls off his 
horse, they fall off their horses ; if he bathes, they bathe, and 
passers-by must go into the water in the dress, good or bad, 
which they happen to have on.^ When the emperor of 
China laughs, the mandarins in attendance laugh also ; 
when he stops laughing, they stop ; when he is sad, their 
countenances are chopfallen ; "you would say that their faces 
are on springs, and that the emperor can touch the springs 
and set them in motion at pleasure."^ But to return to 
the death of the divine king. 

Many days' journey to the north-east of Abomey, the 
old capital of Dahomey, lies the kingdom of Eyeo. " The 
Eyeos are governed by a king, no less absolute than the 
king of Dahomy, yet subject to a regulation of state, 
Kings of at once humiliating and extraordinary. When the people 
to'deaft' have conceived an opinion of his ill-government, which is 
sometimes insidiously infused into them by the artifice of 
his discontented ministers, they send a deputation to him 
with a present of parrots' eggs, as a mark of its authen- 
ticity, to represent to him that the burden of government 
must have so far fatigued him that they consider it full 
time for him to repose from his cares and indulge him- 
self with a little sleep. He thanks his subjects for their 
attention to his ease, retires to his own apartment as if to 
sleep, and there gives directions to his women to strangle 
him. This is immediately executed, and his son quietly 

1 R. W. Felkin, "Notes on the Brooke, Esq., Rajah of Sarawak, by 
Waganda Tribe of Central Africa," in Captain R. Mundy, i. 134. My friend 
Proceedings of the Royal Society of the late Mr. Lorimer Fison, in a letter 
Edinburgh, xiii. (1884-1886) p. 711 ; of August 26th, 1898, told me that the 
J. Roscoe, "Further Notes on the custom of falling down whenever a 
Manners and Customs of the Baganda," chief fell was observed also in Fiji, 

Journal of the Anthropological Insti- where it had a special name, bale inuri, 

tute, xxxii. (1902) p. 77 (as to " fall-follow." 

sneezing). ^ Mgr. Bruguiere, in Annales de 

2 Narrative of Events in Borneo and I' Association de la Propagation de la 
Celebes, from the Journal of James Foi, v. (1831) pp. 174 sq. 


ascends the throne upon the usual terms of holding the reins 
of government no longer than whilst he merits the appro- 
bation of the people." About the year 1774, a king of Eyeo, 
whom his ministers attempted to remove in the customary 
manner, positively refused to accept the proffered parrots' 
•eggs at their hands, telling them that he had no mind to 
take a nap, but pn the contrary was resolved to watch for 
the benefit of his subjects. The ministers, surprised and 
indignant at his recalcitrancy, raised a rebellion, but were 
defeated with great slaughter, and thus by his spirited con- 
duct the king freed himself from the tyranny of his 
councillors and established a new precedent for the guidance 
of his successors.! However, the old custom seems to have 
revived and persisted until late in the nineteenth century, 
for a Catholic missionary, writing in 1884, speaks of the 
practice as if it were still in vogue.^ Another missionary, 
writing in 188 1, thus describes the usage of the Egbas and 
the Yorubas of west Africa : " Among the customs of 
the country one of the most curious is unquestionably 
that of judging and punishing the king. Should he 
have earned the hatred of his people by exceeding his rights, 
■one of his councillors, on whom the heavy duty is laid, 
requires of the prince that he shall ' go to sleep,' which means 
simply ' take poison and die.' If his courage fails him at 
the supreme moment, a friend renders him this last service, 
and quietly, without betraying the secret, they prepare the 
people for the news of the king's death. In Yoruba the 
thing is managed a little differently. When a son is born 
to the king of Oyo, they make a model of the infant's right 
foot in clay and keep it in the house of the elders {ogboni). 
If the king fails to observe the customs of the country, a 
messenger, without speaking a word, shews him his child's 
foot. The king knows what that means. He takes poison Voluntary 
and goes to sleep." * The old Prussians acknowledged as ^^^\^^ 
their supreme lord a ruler who governed them in the name the ow 
■of the gods, and was known as God's Mouth (Kirwaido). ^^^^^^ 

1 A. Dalzel, History of Dakomy ' Missionary HoUey, " Etude sur 
■(London, 1793), pp. 12 sq., 156 sg. les Egbas," Missions Catholiqties, xiii. 

2 Father Baudin, " Le Fetichisme (1881) pp. 351 sq. Here Oyo is 
«u la religion des N^gres de la Guin^e," probably the same as Eyeo mentioned 
Missions Cathdliques,ym. (i884)p. 215. above. 




deaths by 

grinus at 

monks in 

When he felt himself weak and ill, if he wished to leave a 
good name behind him, he had a great heap made of thorn- 
bushes and straw, on which he mounted and delivered a 
long sermon to the people, exhorting them to serve the gods 
and promising to go to the gods and speak for the people. 
Then he took some of the perpetual fire which burned in 
front of the holy oak-tree, and lighting the pile with it 
burned himself to death.^ 

We need not doubt the truth of this last tradition. 
Fanaticism or the mere love of notoriety has led men in 
other ages and other lands to court death in the flames. In 
antiquity the mountebank Peregrinus, after bidding for fame 
in the various characters of a Christian martyr, a shameless 
cynic, and a rebel against Rome, ended his disreputable and 
vainglorious career by publicly burning himself at the 
Olympic festival in the presence of a crowd of admirers and 
scoffers, among whom was the satirist Lucian.^ Buddhist 
monks in China sometimes seek to attain Nirvana by the 
same method, the flame of their religious zeal being fanned 
by a belief that the merit of their death redounds to the 
good of the whole community, while the praises which are 
showered upon them in their lives, and the prospect of the 
honours and worship which await them after death, serve as 
additional incentives to suicide. The beautiful mountains of 
Tien-tai, in the district of Tai-chow, are, or were till lately, 
the scene of many such voluntary martyrdoms. The victims 
are monks who, weary of the vanities of earth, have with- 
drawn even from their monasteries and spent years alone in 
one or other of the hermitages which are scattered among 
the ravines and precipices of this wild and secluded region. 
Their fancy having been wrought and their resolution strung 
to the necessary pitch by a life of solitude and brooding con- 
templation, they announce their intention and fix the day of 
their departure from this world of shadows, always choosing 
for that purpose a festival which draws a crowd of 
worshippers and pilgrims to one of the many monasteries of 

' Simon Grunau, Preussische Chro- 
nik, herausgegeben von Dr. M. 
Perlbach (Leipsic, 1876), i. p. 


^ Lucian, De morte Pere^ni. That 

Lucian's account of the mountebank's 
death is not a fancy picture is proved 
by the evidence of TertuUian, Ad 
martyres, 4, " Peregrinus qui non olitn 
se roTO immisit." 


the district. Advertisements of the approaching solemnity 
are posted throughout the country, and believers are invited 
to attend and assist the martyrs with their prayers. From 
three to five monks are said thus to commit themselves to 
the flames every year at Tien-tai. They prepare by fasting 
and ablution for the last fiery trial of their faith. An 
upright chest containing a seat is placed in a brick furnace, 
and the space between the chest and the walls of the furnace 
is filled with fuel. The doomed man takes his seat in the 
chest ; the door is shut on him and barred ; fire is applied 
to the combustibles, and consumes the candidate for heaven. 
When all is over, the charred remains are raked together, 
worshipped, and reverently buried in a dagoba or shrine 
destined for the preservation and worship of the relics of 
saints. The victims, it is said, are not always voluntary. 
In remote districts unscrupulous priests have been known to 
stupefy a clerical brother with drugs and then burn him 
publicly, an unwilling martyr, as a means of spreading the 
renown of the monastery and thereby attracting the alms of 
the faithful. On the twenty-eighth of January 1888 the 
Spiritual-hill monastery, distant about a day's journey from 
the city of Wen-chow, witnessed the voluntary death by fire 
of two monks who bore the euphonious names of Perceptive- 
intelligence and Effulgent-glamour. Before they entered the 
furnaces, the spectators prayed them to become after death 
the spiritual guardians of the neighbourhood, to protect it from 
all evil influences, and to grant luck in trade, fine seasons, 
plentiful harvests, and every other blessing. The martyrs com- 
plaisantly promised to comply with these requests, and were 
thereupon worshipped as living Buddhas, while a stream of 
gifts poured into the coffers of the monastery.^ Among the 
Esquimaux of Bering Strait a shaman has been known to 
burn himself alive in the expectation of returning to life with 
much stronger powers than he had possessed before.^ 

But the suicides by fire of Chinese Buddhists and Religious 
Esquimaux sorcerers have been far surpassed by the frenzies ^^^^^ '" 

ID. S. Macgowan, M.D., " Self- 2 g. W. Nelson, "The Eskimo 

immolation by Fire in China," The about Bering Strait," Eighteenth 

Chinese Recorder and Missionary Annual Report of the Bureau of 

Journal, xix. (1888) pp. 445-451, American Ethnology, Part I. (Wash- 

508-521. ington, 1899), pp. 320, 433 sq. 


of Christian fanaticism. In the seventeenth century the 

internal troubles of their unhappy country, viewed in the 

Belief dim light of prophecy, created a widespread belief among 

Approach- *^^ Russian people that the end of the world was at hand, 

ing end of and that the reign of Antichrist was about to begin. We 

the world. \^^Q^ fj.Qj^ Scripture that the old serpent, which is the 

devil, has been or will be shut up under lock and key for 

a thousand years,^ and that the number of the Beast is six 

hundred and sixty-six.^ A simple mathematical calculation, 

based on these irrefragable data, pointed to the year one 

thousand six hundred and sixty -six as the date when 

the final consummation of all things and the arrival of the 

Beast in question might be confidently anticipated. When 

the year came and went and still, to the general surprise, the 

animal failed to put in an appearance, the calculations were 

revised, it was discovered that an error had crept into them, 

and the world was respited for another thirty-three years. 

But though opinions differed as to the precise date of the 

catastrophe, the pious were unanimous in their conviction of 

its proximity. Accordingly some of them ceased to till their 

fields, abandoned their houses, and on certain nights of the 

year expected the sound of the last trump in coffins which 

they took the precaution of closing, lest their senses, or what 

remained of them, should be overpowered by the awful vision 

of the Judgment Day. 

Epidemic It would have been well if the delusion of their dis- 

o suicide. Qj-jgred intellects had stopped there. Unhappily in many 

cases it went much further, and suicide, universal suicide, 

was preached by fervent missionaries as the only means to 

escape the snares of Antichrist and to pass from the sins and 

sorrows of this fleeting world to the eternal joys of heaven. 

Whole communities hailed with enthusiasm the gospel of 

death, and hastened to put its precepts in practice. An 

epidemic of suicide raged throughout northern and north- 

Suicide by eastern Russia. At first the favourite mode of death was by 

starvation, starvation. In the forest of Vetlouga, for example, an old 

man founded an establishment for the use of religious suicides. 

It was a building without doors and windows. The aspirants 

to heaven were lowered into it through a hole in the roof, 

' Revelation xx. 1-3. ' Revelation xiii. 18. 


the hatch was battened down on them, and men armed 
with clubs patrolled the outer walls to prevent the prisoners 
from escaping. Hundreds of persons thus died a lingering 
death. At first the sounds of devotion issued from the walls ; 
but as time went on these were replaced by entreaties for 
food, prayers for mercy, and finally imprecations on the mis- 
creant who had lured these misguided beings to destruction 
and on the parents who had brought them into the world to 
suffer such exquisite torments. Thus death by famine was 
attended by some obvious disadvantages. It was slow : it 
opened the door to repentance : it occasionally admitted of 
rescue. Accordingly death by fire was preferred as surer and Suicide 
more expeditious. Priests, monks, and laymen scoured the ''^ ^''^' 
villages and hamlets preaching salvation by the flames, some 
of them decked in the spoils of their victims ; for the motives 
of the preachers were often of the basest sort. They did 
not spare even the children, but seduced them by promises 
of the gay clothes, the apples, the nuts, the honey they 
would enjoy in heaven. Sometimes when the people 
hesitated, these infamous wretches decided the wavering 
minds of their dupes by a false report that the troops were 
coming to deliver them up to Antichrist, and so to rob them 
of a blissful eternity. Then men, women, and children 
rushed into the flames. Sometimes hundreds, and even 
thousands, thus perished together. An area was enclosed by 
barricades, fuel was heaped up in it, the victims huddled 
together, fire set to the whole, and the sacrifice consummated. 
Any who in their agony sought to escape were driven or 
thrown back into the flames, sometimes by their own relations. 
These sinister fires generally blazed at night, reddening the 
sky till daybreak. In the morning nothing remained but 
charred bodies gnawed by prowling dogs ; but the stench of 
burnt human flesh poisoned the air for days afterwards.^ 

1 Ivan Stchoukine, Le Suicide col- time to time, people burning tliem- 

lectif dans le Raskol russe (Paris, selves in families or in batches of 

I9°3). PP- 45-53' 61-78, 84-87, thirty or forty. The last of these 

96-99, I02-H2. The mania in its suicides by fire took place in i860, 

most extreme form died away towards when fifteen persons thus perished in 

the end of the seventeenth century, but the Government of Olonetz. Twenty- 

during the eighteenth and nineteenth four others buried themselves alive near 

centuries cases of collective suicide Tiraspol in the winter of 1896-97. .See 

from religious motives occurred from I. Stchoukine, op. cit. pp. 1 14-126. 


A Jewish As the Christians expected the arrival of Antichrist in 

essiah. ^^ y^sx 1 666, SO the Jews cheerfully anticipated the long- 
delayed advent of their Messiah in the same fateful year. A 
Jew of Smyrna, by name Sabatei-Sevi, availed himself of 
this general expectation to pose as the Messiah in person. 
He was greeted with enthusiasm. Jews from many parts of 
Europe hastened to pay their homage and, what was still 
better, their money to the future deliverer of his country, 
who in return parcelled out among them, with the greatest 
liberality, estates in the Holy Land which did not belong 
to him. But the alternative of death by impalement or 
conversion to Mohammedanism, which the Sultan submitted 
to his consideration, induced him to revise his theological 
opinions, and on looking into the matter more closely he 
discovered that his true mission in life was to preach the 
total abolition of the Jewish religion and the substitution 
for it of Islam.-' 

§ 3. Kings killed at the End of a Fixed Term 

Kings put In the cases hitherto described, the divine king or priest 

Ifter'^a ^^ Suffered by his people to retain office until some outward 
fixed term, defect, somc visible symptom of failing health or advancing 
age, warns them that he is no longer equal to the discharge 
of his divine duties ; but not until such symptoms have made 
their appearance is he put to death. Some peoples, how- 
ever, appear to have thought it unsafe to wait for even the 
slightest symptom of decay and have preferred to kill the 
king while he was still in the full vigour of life, Accord- 
ingly, they have fixed a term beyond which he might not 
reign, and at the close of which he must die, the term fixed 
upon being short enough to exclude the probability of his 
degenerating physically in the interval. In some parts of 
Suicide of southern India the period fixed was twelve years. Thus, 
Q^ij'^^^^g"^ according to an old traveller, in the province of Quilacare, 
at the end about twenty leagues to the north-east of Cape Comorin, 
oftwd'4" "there is a Gentile house of prayer, in which there is an 
years. idol which they hold in great account, and every twelve 

' Voltaire, Essai sur les Masurs, iii. 142-145 (CEuvres computes de Voltaire, 
xiii. Paris, 1878), 


years they celebrate a great feast to it, whither all the 
Gentiles go as to a jubilee. This temple possesses many 
lands and much revenue : it is a very great affair. This 
province has a king over it, who has not more than twelve 
years to reign from jubilee to jubilee. His manner of living 
is in this wise, that is to say : when the twelve years are com- 
pleted, on the day of this feast there assemble together in- 
numerable people, and much money is spent in giving food to 
Bramans. The king has a wooden scaffolding made, spread 
over with silken hangings : and on that day he goes to bathe 
at a tank with great ceremonies and sound of music, after that 
he comes to the idol and prays to it, and mounts on to the 
scaffolding, and there before all the people he takes some 
very sharp knives, and begins to cut off his nose, and then his 
ears, and his lips, and all his members, and as much flesh off 
himself as he can ; and he throws it away very hurriedly 
until so much of his blood is spilled that he begins to faint, 
and then he cuts his throat himself. And he performs this 
sacrifice to the idol, and whoever desires to reign other 
twelve years and undertake this martyrdom for love of the 
idol, has to be present looking on at this : and from that 
place they raise him up as king." ^ 

The king of Calicut, on the Malabar coast, bears the Custom 
title of Samorin or Samory, which in the native language is kingrof 
said to mean " God on earth." ^ He " pretends to be of a Calicut. 
higher rank than the Brahmans, and to be inferior only to 
the invisible gods ; a pretention that was acknowledged by 
his subjects, but which is held as absurd and abominable by 
the Brahmans, by whom he is only treated as a Sudra."* 
Formerly the Samorin had to cut his throat in public at 
the end of a twelve years' reign. But towards the end of the 
seventeenth century the rule had been modified as follows : 
" Many strange customs were observed in this country in 

1 Duarte Batbosa, A Description of says that the name Zamorin (Samorin) 
the Coasts of East Africa and Malabar according to some " is a corruption of 
in the Beginning of the Sixteenth Tamuri, the name of the most ex- 
Century (Hakluyt Society, London, alted family of the Nair caste." 
1866), pp. 172 sq. ^ Francis Buchanan, "Journey from 

2 L. di Varthema, Travels, trans- Madras through the Countries of 
lated by J. W. Jones and edited by G. Mysore, Canara, and Malabar," in 
P. Badger (Hakluyt Society, London, Pinkerton's Voyages and Travels, viii. 
1863), p. 134. In a note the Editor 735. 


Custom of former times, and some very odd ones are still continued. 

of^CaUcut ^*- ^^^ ^" ancient custom for the Samorin to reign but twelve 
years, and no longer. If he died before his term was ex- 
pired, it saved him a troublesome ceremony of cutting his 
own throat, on a publick scaffold erected for the purpose. 
He first made a feast for all his nobility and gentry, who 
are very numerous. After the feast he saluted his guests, and 
went on the scaffold, and very decently cut his own throat 
in the view of the assembly, and his body was, a little while 
after, burned with great pomp and ceremony, and the 
grandees elected a new Samorin. Whether that custom 
was a religious or a civil ceremony, I know not, but it is now 
laid aside. And a new custom is followed by the modern 
Samorins, that jubilee is proclaimed throughout his dominions, 
at the end of twelve years, and a tent is pitched, for him in a 
spacious plain, and a great feast is celebrated for ten or twelve 
days, with mirth and jollity, guns firing night and day, so at the 
end of the feast any four of the guests that have a mind to 
gain a crown by a desperate action, in fighting their way 
through 30 or 40,000 of his guards, and kill the Samorin 
in his tent, he that kills him succeeds him in his empire. 
In anno 1695, one of those jubilees happened, and the tent 
pitched near Pennany, a seaport of his, about fifteen leagues 
to the southward of Calicut. There were but three men 
that would , venture on that desperate action, who fell in, 
with sword and target, among the guard, and, after they had 
killed and wounded many, were themselves killed. One of 
the desperados had a nephew of fifteen or sixteen years of 
age, that kept close by his uncle in the attack on the guards, 
and, when he saw him fall, the youth got through the guards 
into the tent, and made a stroke at his Majesty's head, and 
had certainly despatched him if a large brass lamp which was 
burning over his head had not marred the blow ; but, before 
he could make another, he was killed by the guards ; and, 
I believe, the same Samorin reigns yet. I chanced to come 
that time along the coast and heard the guns for two or 
three days and nights successively." ^ 

The English traveller, whose account I have quoted, did 

1 Alex. Hamilton, "A New Account of the East Indies," in Pinkerton's 
Voyages and Travels, viii. 374. 


not himself witness the festival he describes, though he heard Fuller 
the sound of the firing in the distance. Fortunately, exact ^he°Caiicut 
records of these festivals and of the number of men who custom. 
perished at them have been preserved in the archives of the 
royal family at Calicut. In the latter part of the nineteenth 
century they were examined by Mr. W. Logan, with the per- 
sonal assistance of the reigning king, and from his work it 
is possible to gain an accurate conception both of the tragedy 
and of the scene where it was periodically enacted down to 
1743, when the ceremony took place for the last time. 

The festival at which the king of Calicut staked his The Maha 
crown and his life on the issue of battle was known as the ^"q^^^ 
Maha Makham or Great Sacrifice. It fell every twelfth Sacrifice at 
year, when the planet Jupiter was in retrograde motion in 
the sign of the Crab, and it lasted twenty - eight days, 
culminating at the time of the eighth lunar asterism in the 
month of Makaram. As the date of the festival was deter- 
mined by the position of Jupiter in the sky, and the interval 
between two festivals was twelve years, which is roughly 
Jupiter's period of revolution round the sun,-^ we may con- 
jecture that the splendid planet was supposed to be in a 
special sense the king's star and to rule his destiny, the 
period of its revolution in heaven corresponding to the 
period of his reign on earth. However that may be, the 
ceremony was observed with great pomp at the Tirunavayi 
temple, on the north bank of the Ponnani River. The spot 
is close to the present railway line. As the train rushes by, 
you can just catch a glimpse of the temple, almost hidden 
behind a clump of trees on the river bank. From the 
western gateway of the temple a perfectly straight road, 
hardly raised above the level of the surrounding rice-fields 
and shaded by a fine avenue, runs for half a mile to a high 
ridge with a precipitous bank, on which the outlines of three 
or four terraces can still be traced. On the topmost of 
these terraces the king took his stand on the eventful day. 
The view which it commands is a fine one. Across the flat 

1 The sidereal revolution of Jupiter known to the Greek astronomers, from 

is completed in 11 years 314.92 days whom the knowledge may perhaps have 

(Encyclopaedia Britannica, Ninth Edi- penetrated into India. See Geminus, 

tion, j.z'. " Astronomy," ii. 808). The Eisagoge, I, p. 10, ed. Halma. 
twelve-years revolution of Jupiter was 

Fl'. Ill E 


expanse of the rice -fields, with the broad placid river 
winding through them, the eye ranges eastward to high 
tablelands, their lower slopes embowered in woods, while 
afar off looms the great chain of the western Ghauts, 
and in the furthest distance the Neilgherries or Blue 
Mountains, hardly distinguishable from the azure of the 
sky above. 
The attack But it was not to the distant prospect that the king's 
™ *^ eyes naturally turned at this crisis of his fate. His atten- 
tion was arrested by a spectacle nearer at hand. For all the 
plain below was alive with troops, their banners waving gaily 
in the sun, the white tents of their many camps standing 
sharply out against the green and gold of the rice-fields. 
Forty thousand fighting men or more were gathered there to 
defend the king. But if the plain swarmed with soldiers, 
the road that cuts across it from the temple to the king's 
stand was clear of them. Not a soul was stirring on it. 
Each side of the way was barred by palisades, and from the 
palisades on either hand a long hedge of spears, held by 
strong arms, projected into the empty road, their blades 
meeting in the middle and forming a glittering arch of steel. 
All was now ready. The king waved his sword. At the 
same moment a great chain of massy gold, enriched with 
bosses, was placed on an elephant at his side. That was 
the signal. On the instant a stir might be seen half a mile 
away at the gate of the temple. A group of swordsmen, 
decked with flowers and smeared with ashes, has stepped out 
from the crowd. They have just partaken of their last meal 
on earth, and they now receive the last blessings and fare- 
wells of their friends. A moment more and they are 
coming down the lane of spears, hewing and stabbing right 
and left at the spearmen, winding and turning and writhing 
among the blades as if they had no bones in their bodies. 
It is all in vain. One after the other they fall, some nearer 
the king, some further off, content to die, not for the shadow 
of a crown, but for the mere sake of approving their daunt- 
less valour and swordsmanship to the world. On the last 
days of the festival the same magnificent display of 
gallantry, the same useless sacrifice of life was repeated 
again and again. Yet perhaps no sacrifice is wholly 


useless which proves that there are men who prefer honour 
to life.^ 

" It is a singular custom in Bengal," says an old native Custom of 
historian of India, " that there is little of hereditary descent g"^^ '.° 
in succession to the sovereignty. There is a throne allotted 
for the king ; there is, in like manner, a seat or station 
assigned for each of the amirs, wazirs, and mansabdars. It 
is that throne and these stations alone which engage the 
reverence of the people of Bengal. A set of dependents, 
servants, and attendants are annexed to each of these situa- 
tions. When the king wishes to dismiss or appoint any 
person, whosoever is placed in the seat of the one dismissed 
is immediately attended and obeyed by the whole establish- 
ment of dependents, servants, and retainers annexed to the 
seat which he occupies. Nay, this rule obtains even as to the 
royal throne itself. Whoever kills the king, and succeeds in 
placing himself on that throne, is immediately acknowledged 
as king ; all the amirs, wazirs, soldiers, and peasants instantly 
obey and submit to him, and consider him as being as much 
their sovereign as they did their former prince, and obey his 
orders implicitly. The people of Bengal say, ' We are faithful 
to the throne ; whoever fills the throne we are obedient and 
true to it.' " ^ A custom of the same sort formerly prevailed Custom of 
in the little kingdom of Passier, on the northern coast of^'j^p^'g"?^^ 
Sumatra. The old Portuguese historian De Barros, who in- 
forms us of it, remarks with surprise that no wise man would 
wish to be king of Passier, since the monarch was not allowed 
by his subjects to live long. From time to time a sort of fury 
seized the people, and they marched through the streets of 
the city chanting with loud voices the fatal words, " The 
king must die 1 " When the king heard that song of death 
he knew that his hour had come. The man who struck 
the fatal blow was of the royal lineage, and as soon as 
he had done the deed of blood and seated himself on 
the throne he was regarded as the legitimate king, provided 

' W. Logan, Malabar (Madras, India as told by its own Historians, iv. 

1887), i. 162 - 169. The writer 260. I have to thank Mr. R. S. 

describes in particular the festival of Whiteway, of Brownscombe, Shotter- 

1683, when fifty-five men perished in mill, Surrey, for kindly calling my 

the manner described. attention to this and the following 

2 Sir H. M. Elliot, The History of instance of the custom of regicide. 




that he contrived to maintain his seat peaceably for a single 
day. This, however, the regicide did not always succeed in 
doing. When Fernao Peres d'Andrade, on a voyage to 
China, put in at Passier for a cargo of spices, two kings 
were massacred, and that in the most peaceable and orderly 
manner, without the smallest sign of tumult or sedition in 
the city, where everything went on in its usual course, 
as if the murder or execution of a king were a matter 
of everyday occurrence. Indeed, on one occasion three 
kings were raised to the dangerous elevation and followed 
each other on the dusty road of death in a single day. The 
people defended the custom, which they esteemed very laud- 
able and even of divine institution, by saying that God 
would never allow so high and mighty a being as a king, 
who reigned as his vicegerent on earth, to perish by violence 
unless for his sins he thoroughly deserved it.^ Far away 
from the tropical island of Sumatra a rule of the same sort 
appears to have obtained among the old Slavs. When the 
captives Gunn and Jarmerik contrived to slay the king and 
queen of the Slavs and made their escape, they were pursued 
by the barbarians, who shouted after them that if they would 
only come back they would reign instead of the murdered 
monarch, since by a public statute of the ancients the 
succession to the throne fell to the king's assassin. But the 
flying regicides turned a deaf ear to promises which they 
regarded as mere baits to lure them back to destruction ; 
they continued their flight, and the shouts and clamour of 
the barbarians gradually died away in the distance.^ 

When kings were bound to suffer death, whether at their 
own hands or at the hands of others, on the expiration of a 
in Malabar, flxed term of ycars, it was natural that they should seek to 
delegate the painful duty, along with some of the privileges 
of sovereignty, to a substitute who should suffer vicariously 
in their stead. This expedient appears to have been resorted 
to by some of the princes of Malabar. Thus we are informed 
by a native authority on that country that " in some places 

1 De Barros, Da Asia, dos feitos, ^ Saxo Grammaticus, Historia 

que OS Portuguezes fizeram no descubri- Danica, v'm. pp. 410 sg., ed. P. E. 

menio e conquista dos mares e terras do MilUer (p. 334 of Mr. Oliver Elton's 

Oriente, Decada Terceira, Liv. V. cap. English translation). 
i. pp. 512 sq. (Lisbon, 1777). 


all powers both executive and judicial were delegated for a 

fixed period to natives by the sovereign. This institution 

was styled Thalavettiparothiam or authority obtained by 

decapitation. Parothiam is the name of a supreme authority 

of those days. The name of the office is still preserved in 

the Cochin state, where the village headman is called a 

Parathiakaran. This Thalavettiparothiam was a terrible 

but interesting institution. It was an office tenable for 

five years during which its bearer was invested with supreme 

despotic powers within his jurisdiction. On the expiry of 

the five years the man's head was cut off and thrown up in 

the air amongst a large concourse of villagers, each of whom 

vied with the other in trying to catch it in its course down. 

He who succeeded was nominated to the post for the next 

five years." ^ A similar delegation of the duty of dying for Custom of 

his country was perhaps practised by the Sultans of Java. ^^%^^'^"^ 

At least such a custom would explain a strange scene which 

was witnessed at the court of one of these sultans by the 

famous traveller Ibn Batuta, a native of Tangier, who visited 

the East Indies in the first half of the fourteenth century. 

He says : " During my audience with the Sultan I saw a man 

who held in his hand a knife like that used by a grape-gleaner. 

He placed it on his own neck and spoke for a long time in a 

language which I did not understand. After that he seized 

the knife with both hands at once and cut his throat. His 

head fell to the ground, so sharp was the blade and so great 

the force with which he used it. I remained dumbfoundered 

at his behaviour, but the Sultan said to me, ' Does any one 

do like that in your country ? ' I answered, ' Never did I 

see such a thing.' He smiled and replied, ' These people 

are our slaves, and they kill themselves for love of us.' Then 

he commanded that they should take away him who had 

slain himself and should burn him. The Sultan's officers, 

the grandees, the troops, and the common people attended 

the cremation. The sovereign assigned a liberal pension to 

the children of the deceased, to his wife, and to his brothers ; 

> T. K. Gopal Panikkar (of the 1900), pp. 120 sq. I have to thank 

Madras Registration Department), my friend Mr. W. Crooke for calling 

Malabar and its Folk (Madras, N.D., my attention to this account, 
preface dated Chowghaut, 8th October 


and they were highly honoured because of his conduct. A 
person, who was present at the audience when the event I 
have described took place, informed me that the speech made 
by the man who sacrificed himself set forth his devotion to 
the monarch. He said that he wished to immolate himself 
out of affection for the sovereign, as his father had done for 
love of the prince's father, and as his grandfather had done 
out of regard for the prince's grandfather." ^ We may 
conjecture that formerly the sultans of Java, like the kings of 
Quilacare and Calicut, were bound to cut their own throats 
at the end of a fixed term of years, but that at a later time 
they deputed the painful, though glorious, duty of dying for 
their country to the members of a certain family, who received 
by way of recompense ample provision during their life and 
a handsome funeral at death. 

A similar mode of religious suicide seems to have been 
often adopted in India, especially in Malabar, during the 
Middle Ages. Thus we are told by Friar Jordanus that 
in the Greater India, by which he seems to mean Malabar 
and the neighbouring regions, many sacrifice themselves to 
the idols. When they are sick or involved in misfortune, 
they vow themselves to the idol in case they are delivered. 
Then, when they have recovered, they fatten themselves 
for one or two years ; and when another festival comes 
round, they cover themselves with flowers, crown them- 
selves with white garlands, and go singing and playing 
before the idol, when it is carried through the land. There, 
after they have shown off a great deal, they take a sword 
with two handles, like those used in currying leather, put 
it to the back of their neck, and cutting strongly with 
both hands sever their heads from their bodies before the 
idol.^ Again, Nicolo Conti, who travelled in the East in 
the early part of the fifteenth century, informs us that in 
the city of Cambaita " many present themselves who have 
determined upon self immolation, having on their neck a 
broad circular piece of iron, the fore part of which is round 

1 Voyage d'Ibn Batoutah, texte arabe, ^ The Wonders of the East, by Friar 

accompagne d'une traduction par C. Jordanus, translated by Col. Henry 

Deflfremery et B. R. Sanguinetti (Paris, Yule (London, 186.3, Hakluyt Society), 

1853-58), iv. 246 sq, pp. 32 sq. 


and the hinder part extremely sharp. A chain attached to 
the fore part hangs suspended upon the breast, into which 
the victims, sitting down with their legs drawn up and their 
neck bent, insert their feet. Then, on the speaker pro- 
nouncing certain words, they suddenly stretch out their legs, 
and at the same time drawing up their neck, cut off their 
own head, yielding up their lives as a sacrifice to their idols. 
These men are regarded as saints." ^ Among the Jaintias 
or Syntengs, a Khasi tribe of Assam, human sacrifices used 
to be annually offered on the Sandhi day in the month of 
Ashwin. Persons often came forward voluntarily and pre- 
sented themselves as victims. This they generally did by 
appearing before the Rajah on the last day of Shravan and 
declaring that the goddess had called them to herself 
After due enquiry, if the would-be victim were found suit- 
able, it was customary for the Rajah to present him with a 
golden anklet and to give him permission to live as he chose 
and to do what he liked, the royal treasury undertaking to 
pay compensation for any damage he might do in the 
exercise of his remarkable privileges. But the enjoyment 
of these privileges was very short. On the day appointed 
the voluntary victim, after bathing and purifying himself, 
was dressed in new attire, daubed with red sandal-wood and 
vermilion, and bedecked with garlands. Thus arrayed, he 
sat for a time in meditation and prayer on a dais in front of 
the goddess ; then he made a sign with his finger, and the 
executioner, after uttering the usual formulas, cut off his 
head, which was thereafter laid before the goddess on a 
golden plate. The lungs were cooked and eaten by such 
Kandra Yogis as were present, and it is said that the royal 
family partook of a small quantity of rice cooked in the 
blood of the victim. The ceremony was usually witnessed 
by crowds of spectators who assembled from all parts of the 

' India in the Fiftee^ith Century, chains and stirrups attached to it for 

being a Collection of Voyages to India the convenience of the suicide) used to 

in the centtiry preceding the Portuguese be preserved at Kshira, a village of 

discovery of the Cape of Good Hope, Bengal near Nadiya : it was called a 

edited by R.H.Major(Haklnyt Society, karavat. See The Book of Ser Marco 

London, 1857), "The Travels of Polo, newly translated and edited by 

Nicolo Conti in the East," pp. 27 sq. Colonel Henry Yule, Second Edition 

An instrument of the sort described in (London, 1875), ii. 334. 
the text (a crescent-shaped knife with 



Man killed 
at the in- 
of a king of 

neighbouring hills. When the supply of voluntary victims 
fell short, emissaries were sent out to kidnap strangers from 
other territories, and it was the practice of such man-hunts 
that led to the annexation of the Jaintia country by the 

When once kings, who had hitherto been bound to die 
a violent death at the end of a term of years, conceived 
the happy thought of dying by deputy in the persons of 
others, they would very naturally put it in practice ; and 
accordingly we need not wonder at finding so popular 
an expedient, or traces of it, in many lands. Thus, for 
example, the Bhuiyas are an aboriginal race of north- 
eastern India, and one of their chief seats is Keonjhur. At 
the installation of a Rajah of Keonjhur a ceremony is 
observed which has been described as follows by an English 
officer who witnessed it : " Then the sword, a very rusty old 
weapon, is placed in the Raja's hands, and one of the 
Bhuiyas, named Anand Kopat, comes before him, and kneel- 
ing sideways, the Raja touches him on the neck as if about 
to strike off his head, and it is said that in former days there 
was no fiction in this part of the ceremony. The family of 
the Kopat hold their lands on the condition that the victim 
when required shall be produced. Anand, however, hurriedly 
arose after the accolade and disappeared. He must not be 
seen for three days ; then he presents himself again to the 
Raja as miraculously restored to life."^ Here the custom 
of putting the king's proxy to death has dwindled, probably 
under English influence, to a mere pretence ; but elsewhere 
it survives, or survived till recent times, in full force. 
Cassange, a native state in the interior of Angola, is ruled by 
a king, who bears the title of Jaga. When a king is about 
to be installed in office, some of the chiefs are despatched to 
find a human victim, who may not be related by blood or 
marriage to the new monarch. When he comes to the 
king's camp, the victim is provided with everything he 
requires, and all his orders are obeyed as promptly as those 
of the sovereign. On the day of the ceremony the king takes 

' Major p. R. T. Gurdon, The 
Khasis (London, 1907), pp. 102 sq., 
quoting Mr. Gait in ih^ Journal of the 

Asiatic Society of Bengal for 1898. 

^ E. T. Dalton, Descriptive Ethiwlogy 
of Beng-al [CzXcutta., 1872), p. 146. 


his seat on a perforated iron stool, his chiefs, councillors, 
and the rest of the people forming a great circle round 
about him. Behind the king sits his principal wife, together 
with all his concubines. An iron gong, with two small bells 
attached to it, is then struck by an official, who continues to 
ring the bells during the ceremony. The victim is then 
introduced and placed in front of the king, but with his back 
tov/ards him. Armed with a scimitar the king then cuts 
open the man's back, extracts his heart, and having taken a 
bite out of it, spits it out and gives it to be burned. The 
councillors meantime hold the victim's body so that the 
blood from the wound spouts against the king's breast and 
belly, and, pouring through the hole in the iron stool, is 
collected by the chiefs in their hands, who rub their breasts 
and beards with it, while they shout, " Great is the king and 
the rites of the state ! " After that the corpse is skinned, 
cut up, and cooked with the flesh of an ox, a dog, a hen, 
and some other animals. The meal thus prepared is served 
first to the king, then to the chiefs and councillors, and lastly 
to all the people assembled. Any man who refused to 
partake of it would be sold into slavery together with his 
family.^ The distinction with which the human victim is 
here treated before his execution suggests that he is a 
substitute for the king. 

Scandinavian traditions contain some hints that of old Sacrifice of 
the Swedish kings reigned only for periods of nine years, gons'^IJJ^ ^ 
after which they were put to death or had to find a substitute Sweden 
to die in their stead. Thus Aun or On, king of Sweden, is ^ mne 
said to have sacrificed to Odin for length of days and to years' 


have been answered by the god that he should live so long of the 
as he sacrificed one of his sons every ninth year. He throne. 
sacrificed nine of them in this manner, and would have 
sacrificed the tenth and last, but the Swedes would not allow 
him; So he died and was buried in a mound at Upsala.^ 

1 F. T. Valdez, Six Years of a Cult of Othin (London, 1899), p. 4. 

Traveller's Life in Western Africa According to Messrs. Laing and Chad- 

(London, 1861), ii. 158-160. I have wick the sacrifice took place every ^«Krt 

translated the title ^a?«zVa by "chief"; year. But I follow Prof. K. Weinhold 

the writer does not explain it. who translates " hit titmda hvert dr" 

^ Ynglinga Saga, 29 (The Heims- hy " alle neun fahre " {" Tlie mystische 

kringla, translated by S. Laing, i. 239 Neunzahl beiden Deutschen," Abhand- 

sg.). Compare H. M. Chadwick, The lungen der konig. Akademie der Wissen- 

SODS in 
Sweden : 
evidence of 




Another indication of a similar tenure of the crown occurs 
in a curious legend of the disposition and banishment of 
Odin. Offended at his misdeeds, the other gods outlawed 
and exiled him, but set up in his place a substitute. Oiler by- 
name, a cunning wizard, to whom they accorded the symbols 
both of royalty and of godhead. The deputy bore the name 
of Odin, and reigned for nearly ten years, when he was 
driven from the throne, while the real Odin came to his 
own again. His discomfited rival retired to Sweden and 
was afterwards slain in an attempt to repair his shattered 
fortunes.^ As gods are often merely men who loom large 
through the mists of tradition, we may conjecture that this 
Norse legend preserves a confused reminiscence of ancient 
Swedish kings who reigned for nine or ten years together, 
then abdicated, delegating to others the privilege of dying 
for their country. The great festival which was held at 
Upsala every nine years may have been the occasion on 
which the king or his"Heputy was put to death. We know 
that human sacrifices formed part of the rites.^ 

formerly to 
have held 
office for 
periods of 
eight years 

§ 4. Octennial Tenure of the Kingship 

There are some grounds for believing that the reign of 
many ancient Greek kings was limited to eight years, or at 
least that at the end of every period of eight years a new 
consecration, a fresh outpouring of the divine grace, was 
regarded as necessary in order to enable them to discharge 
their civil and religious duties. Thus it was a rule of the 
Spartan constitution that every eighth year the ephors should 
choose a clear and moonless night and sitting down observe 
the sky in silence. If during their vigil they saw a meteor or 
shooting star, they inferred that the king had sinned against 
the deity, and they suspended him from his functions until 
the Delphic or Olympic oracle should reinstate him in them. 
This custom, which has all the air of great antiquity, was not 

schaften zu Berlin, 1897, p. 6). So 
in Latin decimo quoqtee anno should be 
translated "every ninth year." 

1 Saxo Grammaticus, Historia 
Danica, iii. pp. 129-131, ed. P. E. 

Miiller (pp. 98 sq. of Oliver Elton's vol. ii. pp. 364 sq. 

English translation). 

^ Adam of Bremen, Descriptio insu- 
larum Aquilonis, 27 (Migne's Patrologia 
Latina, cxlvi. col. 644). See The 
Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings, 


suffered to remain a dead letter even in the last period of 
the Spartan monarchy ; for in the third century before our 
era a king, who had rendered himself obnoxious to the 
reforming party, was actually deposed on various trumped-up 
charges, among which the allegation that the ominous sign 
had been seen in the sky took a prominent place.^ When 
we compare this custom with the evidence to be presently 
adduced of an eight years' tenure of the kingship 
in Greece, we shall probably agree with K. O. Miiller^ 
that the quaint Spartan practice was much more than a 
mere antiquarian curiosity ; it was the attenuated survival 
of an institution which may once have had great significance, 
and it throws an important light on the restrictions and 
limitations anciently imposed by religion on the Dorian 
kingship. What exactly was the import of a meteor in the 
opinion of the old Dorians we can hardly hope to determine ; 
one thing only is clear, they regarded it as a portent of so 
ominous and threatening a kind that its appearance under 
certain circumstances justified and even required the deposi- 
tion of their king. This exaggerated dread of so simple a The dread 
natural phenomenon is shared by many savages at the °^^^^^l'^^ 
present day ; and we shall hardly err in supposing that savages. 
the Spartans inherited it from their barbarous ancestors, 
who may have watched with consternation, on many a starry 
night among the woods of Germany, the flashing of a meteor 

' Plutarch, Agis, 1 1. Plutarch says the Greeks and Romans were not 

that the custom was observed "at always consistent in this matter, for 

intervals of nine years '' (Si' irSiv ivvia), they occasionally reckoned in pur 

but the expression is equivalent to our fashion. The resulting ambiguity is 

"at intervals of eight years." In reckon- not only puzzling to moderns ; it some- 

ing intervals of time numerically the times confused the ancients themselves. 

Greeks included both the terms which For example, it led to a derangement 

are separated by the interval, whereas of the newly instituted Julian calendar, 

we include only one of them. For which escaped detection for more than 

example, our phrase "every second thirty years. See Macrobius, i'a^K^K. 

day" would be rendered in Greek Sid i. 14. 13 sq. ; Solinus, i. 45-47. On 

rphris Tj/i^pas, literally "every third the ancient modes of counting in such 

day." Again, a cycle of two years is cases see A. Schmidt, Handbuch der 

in Greek trieteris, literally "a period griechischen Chronologic (Jena, 1888), 

of three years " ; a cycle of eight years pp. 95 sqg. According to Schmidt, 

is ennaeteris, literally "a period of the practice of adding both terms to 

nine years " ; and so forth. See Cen- the sum of the intervening units was 

sorinus, De die natali, 18. The Latin not extended by the Greeks to numbers 

use of the ordinal numbers is similar, above nine. 
e.g. our " every second year " would be 

tertio quoque anno in Latin. However, ^ Die Dorierp' ii. g6. 


through the sky. It may be well, even at the cost of 
a digression, to illustrate this primitive superstition by 
Supersti- Thus, shooting stars and meteors are viewed with appre- 

tions of the hension by the natives of the Andaman Islands, who suppose 
aborigines them to be lighted faggots hurled into the air by the malignant 
^ '° . spirit of the woods in order to ascertain the whereabouts of 

shooting -t^ .. , , 

stars. any unhappy wight in his vicmity. Hence if they happen to 

be away from their camp when the meteor is seen, they hide 
themselves and remain silent for a little before they venture 
to resume the work they were at ; for example, if they are 
out fishing they will crouch at the bottom of the boat.^ 
The natives of the Tully River in Queensland believe 
falling stars to be the fire-sticks carried about by the spirits 
of dead enemies. When they see one shooting through the 
air they take it as a sign that an enemy is near, and accord- 
ingly they shout and make as much noise as they can ; next 
morning they all go out in the direction in which the star 
fell and look for the tracks of their foe.^ The Turrbal tribe of 
Queensland thought that a falling star was a medicine-man 
flying through the air and dropping his fire-stick to kill some- 
body ; if there was a sick man in the camp, they regarded him 
as doomed.^ The Ngarigo of New South Wales believed 
the fall of a meteor to betoken the place where their foes were 
mustering for war.* The Kaitish tribe of central Australia 
imagine that the fall of a star marks the whereabouts of a 
man who has killed another by means of a magical pointing- 
stick or bone. If a member of any group has been killed 
in this way, his friends watch for the descent of a meteor, 
march in that direction, slay an enemy there, and leave his 
body lying on the ground. The friends of the murdered 
man understand what has happened, and bury his body 
where the star fell ; for they recognise the spot by the soft- 
ness of the earth.^ The Mara tribe of northern Australia 

^ E. Man, Aboriginal Inhabitants One of the earliest writers on New 

oj the Andaman Islands, pp. 84 sq. South Wales reports that the natives 

2 W. E. Roth, North Queensland attributed great importance to the fall- 

Bulletin, No. 5, Superstition, Magic, ing of a star (D. Collins, Account of 

and Medicine (Brisbane, 1903), p. 8. the English Colony in New South Wales 

^ A. W. Howitt, The Native Tribes (London, 1 804), p. 383). 

of South-East Australia, p. 429. 5 Spencer and Gillen, Northern 

* A. W. Howitt, op. cit. p. 430. Tribes of Central Australia, p. 627. 


suppose a falling star to be one of two hostile spirits, father 
and son, who live up in the sky and come down occasionally 
to do harm to men. In this tribe the profession of medicine- 
man is strictly hereditary in the stock which has the falling 
star for its totem ; ^ if these wizards had ever developed into 
kings, the descent of a meteor at certain times might have 
had the same fatal significance for them as for the kings of 
Sparta. The Taui Islanders, to the west of the Bismarck 
Archipelago, make war in the direction in which they have 
observed a star to fall,^ probably for a reason like that which 
induces the Kaitish to do the same. 

When the Baronga of south Africa see a shooting star Supersti- 
they spit on the ground to avert the evil omen, and cry, JJ™^^°[ "^® 
" Go away ! go away all alone ! " By this they mean that and other 
the light, which is so soon to disappear, is not to take them races^^ to 
with it, but to go and die by itself^ So when a Masai shooting 
perceives the flash of a meteor he spits several times and 
says, " Be lost ! go in the direction of the enemy ! " after 
which he adds, " Stay away from me." * The Namaquas 
" are greatly afraid of the meteor which is vulgarly called a 
falling star, for they consider it a sign that sickness is coming 
upon the cattle, and to escape it they will immediately drive 
them to some other parts of the country. They call out to 
the star how many cattle they have, and beg of it not to 
send sickness." ^ The Bechuanas are also much alarmed at 
the appearance of a meteor. If they happen to be dancing 
in the open air at the time, they will instantly desist and 
retire hastily to their huts.^ The Ewe negroes of Guinea 
regard a falling star as a powerful divinity, and worship 
it as one of their national gods, by the name of Nyikpla 
or Nyigbla. In their opinion the falling star is especially a 
war-god who marches at the head of the host and leads it 
to victory, riding like Castor and Pollux on horseback. 
But he is also a rain-god, and the showers are sent by 

1 Spencer and Gillen, op. cit. pp. * A. C. HoUis, The Masai (Oxford, 

488, 627 sq. 1905), p. 316. 

^ G. Thilenius, Ethnographische ^ J. Campbell, Travels in South 

Ergebnisse aus Melanesien, ii. (Halle, Africa (London, 1815), pp. 428 sq. 
igo3) p. 129. * Id., Travels in South Africa, 

3 H. A. Junod, Les Ba-ronga Second Journey (London, 1822), ii, 

(Neuchatel, 1898), p. 470. 204. 


him from the sky. Special priests are devoted to his 
worship, with a chief priest at their head, who resides in 
the capital. They are known by the red staves which 
they carry and by the high - pointed caps, woven of 
threads and palm-leaves, which they wear on their heads. 
In times of drought they call upon their god by night 
with wild howls. Once a year an ox is sacrificed to him 
at the capital, and the priests consume the flesh. On 
this occasion the people smear themselves with the pollen 
of a certain plant and go in procession through the towns 
and villages, singing, dancing, and beating drums.^ 
Supersti- By some Indians of California meteors were called 

America*^ " children of the moon," and whenever young women saw 
Indians as one of them they fell to the ground and covered their heads, 
stars °° '"^ fearing that, if the meteor saw them, their faces would become 
ugly and diseased.^ The Tarahumares of Mexico fancy that 
a shooting star is a dead sorcerer coming to harm a man 
who harmed him in life. Hence when they see one they 
huddle together and scream for terror.^ When a German 
traveller was living with the Bororos of central Brazil, a 
splendid meteor fell, spreading dismay through the Indian 
village. It was believed to be the soul of a dead medicine- 
man, who suddenly appeared in this form to announce that he 
wanted meat, and that, as a preliminary measure, he proposed 
to visit somebody with an attack of dysentery. Its appear- 
ance was greeted with yells from a hundred throats : men, 
women, and children swarmed out of their huts like ants whose 
nest has been disturbed ; and soon watch-fires blazed, round 
which at a little distance groups of dusky figures gathered, 
while in the middle, thrown into strong relief by the flicker- 
ing light of the fire, two red-painted sorcerers reeled and 
staggered in a state of frantic excitement, snorting and 
spitting towards the quarter of the sky where the meteor 
had run its brief but brilliant course. Pressing his right 

1 G. Zundel, "Land und Volk der Abtheilung, p. 112. 
Eweer auf der Sclavenkuste in West- ^ Boscana, ' ' Chinigchinich, a His- 

afrika," Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft fur torical Account of the Origin, etc., of 

Erdkunde zu Berlin, xii. {1877) pp. the Indians of St. Juan Capistrano," in 

415 J'j'. ; C. Spiess, " Religionsbegriffe A. Robinson's Life in California (New 

der Evheer in \yestafrika," Mitthei- York, 1846), p. 299. 
lungen des Seminars fiir Orientalische ^ C. Lumholtz, Unknown Mexico 

Sprachen %u Berlin, vi. (1903) Dritte (London, 1903), i. 324 sq. 


hand to his yelling mouth, each of them held aloft in his 
extended left, by way of propitiating the angry star, a 
bundle of cigarettes. " There ! " they seemed to say, " all 
that tobacco will we give to ward off the impending visita- 
tion. Woe to you, if you do not leave us in peace." ^ The 
Lengua Indians of the Gran Chaco also stand in great fear 
of meteors, imagining them to be stones hurled from heaven 
at the wicked sorcerers who have done people to death by 
their charms.^ When the Abipones beheld a meteor flash- 
ing or heard thunder rolling in the sky, they imagined 
that one of their medicine -men had died, and that the 
flash of light and the peal of thunder were part of his 
funeral honours.^ 

When the Laughlan Islanders see a shooting star they Shooting 
make a great noise, for they think it is the old woman who ^'^"^^ , , 

=» ' ^ J regarded 

lives in the moon coming down to earth to catch somebody, as demons. 
who may relieve her of her duties in the moon while she 
goes away to the happy spirit- land.* In Vedic India a 
meteor was believed to be the embodiment of a demon, and 
on its appearance certain hymns or incantations, supposed 
to possess the power of killing demons, were recited for the 
purpose of expiating the prodigy.^ To this day in India, 
when women see a falling star, they spit thrice to scare the 
demon.® Some of the Esthonians at the present time 
regard shooting stars as evil spirits.'' It is a Mohammedan 
belief that falling stars are demons or jinn who have 
attempted to scale the sky, and, being repulsed by the 
angels with stones, are hurled headlong, flaming, from the 
celestial vault. Hence every true believer at sight of a 

1 K. von den Steinen, Unter den ponibus (Vienna, 1784), ii. 86. 
Naturvolkem Zentral-Brasiliens (Bar- 4 w. Tetzlaff, "Notes on the Laugh- 
lin, 1894), pp. 514 J?. The Peruvian i^jj, Islands," Annual Report on 
Indians also made a prodigious noise British New Guinea, iSgO-c/r (Bris- 
when they sav\f a shooting star. See bane, 1892), p. 105. 

P. de Cieza de Leon, rW. (Hakluyt 5 '^ Qldenberg, £>ie Relisiott des 

Society, London, 1864), p. 232. „ , . ^' * 

2 G. Kurze, " Sitten und Gebrauche „ ' 5' , ^ 

der Lengua -Indianer," Mitteilungen W. Crooke Popular Religion and 

der Ceo^aphischen Gesellschaft zu Folklore of Northern India (West- 

Jena, xxiii. (1905) p. 17 ; W. Barbrooke minster, 1906), n. 22. 
Grubb, An Unknown People in an ^ Holzmayer, " Osiliana," Verhand- 

Unknown Land (London, 191 1 ), p. lungen der gelehrten Estnischen 

163. Gesellschaft zu Dorpat, vii. (1872) 

3 M. Dobrizhoffer, Historia de Abi- p. 48. 





with the 
souls of 
the dead. 

meteor should say, " I take refuge with God from the stoned 
devil." 1 

A widespread superstition, of which some examples 
have already been given, associates meteors or falling 
stars with the souls of the dead. Often they are believed to 
be the spirits of the departed on their way to the other 
world. The Maoris imagine that at death the soul leaves 
the body and goes to the nether world in the form of a 
falling star.^ The Kingsmill Islanders deemed a shooting 
star an omen of death to some member of the family which 
occupied the part of the council-house nearest to the point 
of the sky whence the meteor took its flight. If the star 
was followed by a train of light, it foretold the death of a 
woman ; if not, the death of a man.^ When the Wotjobaluk 
tribe of Victoria see a shooting star, they think it is falling 
with the heart of a man who has been caught by a sorcerer 
and deprived of his fat* One evening when Mr. Howitt 
was talking with an Australian black, a bright meteor was 
seen shooting through the sky. The native watched it and 
remarked, " An old blackfellow has fallen down there." ^ 
Among the Yerrunthally tribe of Queensland the ideas on 
this subject were even more definite. They thought that 
after death they went to a place away among the stars, and 
that to reach it they had to climb up a rope ; when they 
had clambered up they let go the rope, which, as it fell from 
heaven, appeared to people on earth as a falling star.^ The 
natives of the Prince of Wales Islands, off Queensland, are 

1 Guillain, Documents sur Fhistoire, 
la giographie, et le commerce de VAfrique 
Orientale, ii. {Paris, N.D.) p. 97; C. 
Velten, Sitten und Gebrduche der 
Suaheli (Gdttingen, 1903), pp. 339 
sq.; C. B. Klunzinger, Upper Egypt 
(London, 1878), p. 405; Budgett 
Meakjn, The Moors (London, 1902), 

P- 353- 

2 E. Dieffenbach, Travels in New 
Zealand (London, 1843), ii. 66. 
According to another account, meteors 
are regarded by the Maoris as be- 
tokening the presence of a god (R. 
Taylor, Te Ika a Maui, or New 
Zealand and its Inhabitants,'^ p. 147). 

^ Ch. Wilkes, Narrative of the United 

States Exploring Expedition, v. 88. 

* A. W. Howitt, Native Tribes of 
South-East Australia, p. 369. 

6 A. W. Howitt, in Brough Smyth's 
Aborigines of Victoria, ii. 309. 

^ E. Palmer, "Notes on some 
Australian Tribes," Journal of the 
Anthropological Institute, xiii. (1884) 
p. 292. Sometimes apparently the 
Australian natives regard crystals or 
broken glass as fallen stars, and 
treasure them as powerful instruments 
of magic. See E. M. Curr, The 
Australian Race, iii. 29 ; W. E. 
Roth, North Queensland Ethnography, 
Bulletin No. S, p. 8. 


much afraid of shooting stars, for they believe them to be 
ghosts which, in breaking up, produce young ones of their 
own kind.^ The natives of the Gazelle Peninsula in New 
Britain think that meteors are the souls of people who have 
been murdered or eaten ; so at the sight of a meteor 
flashing they cry out, " The ghost of a murdered man ! " ^ 
According to the Sulka of New Britain meteors are souls 
which have been flung into the air in order to plunge into 
the sea ; and the train of light which they leave behind 
them is a burning tail of dry coco-nut leaves which has been 
tied to them by other souls, in order to help them to wing 
their way through the air.^ The Caffres of South Africa 
often say that a shooting star is the sign of the death of 
some chief, and at sight of it they will spit on the ground 
as a mark of friendly feeling towards the dead man.* 
Similarly the Ababua of the Congo valley think that a 
chief will die in the village into which a star appears to fall, 
unless the danger of death be averted by a particular 
dance.^ In the opinion of the Masai, the fall of a 
meteor signifies the death of some one ; at sight of it they 
pray that the victim may be one of their enemies.^ The Supposed 
Wambugwe of eastern Africa fancy that the stars are men, •'elation of 
of whom one dies whenever a star is seen to fall. The to men. 
Tinneh Indians and the Tchiglit Esquimaux of north- 
western America believe that human life on earth is 
influenced by the stars, and they take a shooting star to 
be a sign that some one has died.^ The Lolos, an ab- 
original tribe of western China, hold that for each person 
on earth there is a corresponding star in the sky. Hence 
when a man is ill, they sacrifice wine to his star and light 
four and twenty lamps outside of his room. On the day 
after the funeral they dig a hole in the chamber of death 

1 J. Macgillivray, Narrative of the ^ J. Halkin, Quelques Peuplades du 
Voyage of H. M.S. Rattlesnake (London, district de I'Ueli (Li^ge, 1907), p. 102. 
1852), ii. 30. * O. Baumann, Durch Massailand 

2 P. A. Kleintitschen, Die Kiisten- zur JVi/guelle (Beilin, 1894), p. 163. 
bewohner der Gazellehalbinsel (Hiltrup ' O. Baumann, Durch Massailand 
bei Miinster, N.D.), p. 227. zur Nilquelle (Berlin, 1894), p. 188. 

3 P. Rascher, "Die Sulka,'' Archiv * E. Petitot, Monographie des Dini- 
fiir Anthrofologie,-s.ydK. (i<)on) -p. 216. Dindji (Paris, 1876), p. 60; id., 

* Dudley Kidd, Savage Childhood Monographie des Esquimaux Tchiglit 
(London, 1906), p. 149. (Paris, 1876), p. 24. 

PT. Ill F 



beliefs as 

and pray the dead man's star to descend and be buried in 
it. If this precaution were not taken, the star might fall 
and hit somebody and hurt him very much.^ In classical 
antiquity there was a popular notion that every human 
being had his own star in the sky, which shone bright or 
dim according to his good or evil fortune, and fell in the 
form of a meteor when he died.^ 

Superstitions of the same sort are still commonly to 
be met with in Europe. Thus in some parts of Germany 
to meteors, they Say that at the birth of a man a new star is set 
in the sky, and that as it burns brilliantly or faintly he 
grows rich or poor ; finally when he dies it drops from 
the sky in the likeness of a shooting star.' Similarly in 
Brittany, Transylvania, Bohemia, the Abruzzi, the Romagna, 
and the Esthonian island of Oesel it is thought by some 
that every man has his own particular star in the sky, and 
that when it falls in the shape of a meteor he expires.* A 
like belief is entertained by Polish Jews.^ In Styria they 
say that when a shooting star is seen a man has just died, 
or a poor soul been released from purgatory.* The Esth- 
onians believe that if any one sees a falling star on New 
Year's night he will die or be visited by a serious illness that 

^ A. Henry, "The Lolos and other 
Tribes of Western Chi-aa." Journal of 
the Anthropological Institute, xxxiii. 
(1903) p. 103. 

2 Pliny, Nat. Hist. ii. 28. 

^ F. Panzer, Beitrag zicr deutschen 
Mythologie, ii. 293 ; A. Kuhn und W. 
Schwartz, NordiUutsche Sagen, Mdrchen 
und Gebriiuche, p. 457, § 422; E. Meier, 
Deutsche Sagen, Bitten und Gebrduche 
aus Schwaben, p. 506, §§ 379, 380. 

* P. S^billot, Traditions et stiper- 
stitions de la Haute - Bretagne, ii. 
353 ; J. Haltrich, Zur Volkskunde der 
Siebenbilrger Sachsen (Vienna, 1885), p. 
300 ; W. Schmidt, Dasjahr und seine 
Tage in Meinung und Brauch der 
Romdnen SiebenbUrgens, p. 38 ; E. 
Gerard, The Land beyond the Forest, i. 
311; J.V. Gr<ia.-ava.nxi,Aberglaubenund 
Gebrduche aus Bohmen und Mdhren, 
p. 31, § 164; Br. Jelfnek, " Materia- 
lien zur Vorgeschichte und Volkskunde 
Bohmens," Mittheilungen der anthropo- 

logischen Gesellschaft in Wiejt, xxi. 
(1891) p. 25 ; G. Finamore, Credeme, 
usi e costumi Abruzzesi, pp. 47 sq. ; M. 
Placucci, Usi e pregiudizj dei contadini 
della Jiomagna [PaXeimo, 1885), p. 141 ; 
Holzmayer, " Osiliana,'' Verhandl. der 
gelehrten Estnischen Gesellschaft ::u 
Dorpat, vii. (1872) p. 48. The same 
belief is said to prevail in Armenia. 
See Minas Tcheraz, " Notes sur la 
mythologie armenienne," Transactions 
of the Ninth International Congress of 
Orientalists (London, 1893), ii. 824. 
Bret Harte has employed the idea in 
his little poem, " Relieving Guard." 

5 H. Lew, "Der Tod und die 
Beerdigungs - gebrauche bei den pol- 
nischen Juden," Mittheilungen der 
anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Wien, 
xxxii. (1902) p. 402. 

" A. Schlossar, " Volksmeinung und 
Volksaberglaube aus der deutschen 
Steiermark," Germania, N.R., xxiv. 
(1891) p. 389. 


year.^ In Belgium and many parts of France the people 
suppose that a meteor is a soul which has just quitted the 
body, sometimes that it is specially the soul of an unbaptized 
infant or of some one who has died without absolution. At 
sight of it they say that you should cross yourself and pray, 
or that if you wish for something while the star is falling 
you will be sure to get it.* Among the Vosges Mountains 
in the warm nights of July it is not uncommon to see whole 
showers of shooting stars. It is generally agreed that these 
stars are souls, but some difference of opinion exists as to 
whether they are souls just taking leave of earth, or tortured 
by the fires of purgatory, or on their passage from purgatory 
to heaven.^ The last and most cheering of these views is 
held by the French peasantry of Beauce and Perche and by 
the Italian peasantry of the Abruzzi, and charitable people 
pray for the deliverance of a soul at the sight of a falling 
star.* The downward direction of its flight might naturally 
suggest a different goal ; and accordingly other people have 
seen in the transient flame of a meteor the descent of a soul 
from heaven to be born on earth. In the Punjaub, for Various 
example, Hindoos believe that the length of a soul's residence ^sfl^s^nd 
in the realms of bliss is exactly proportioned to the sums which meteors. 
the man distributed in charity during his life ; and that when 
these are exhausted his time in heaven is up, and down he 
comes.^ In Polynesia a shooting star was held to be the 
flight of a spirit, and to presage the birth of a great prince.^ 
The Mandans of north America fancied that the stars were 
dead people, and that when a woman was brought to bed a 
star fell from heaven, and entering into her was born as a 

1 Boeder- Kreutzwald, Der Ehsten Hautes-Vosges (Paris, 1889), pp. 196 
abergldubiscke Gebrduche, Weisen und sq. 

Gewohnkeiten (St. Petersburg, 1854), * F. Chapiseau, Le Folk-lore de la 

p. 73. Beauce et du Perche (Paris, 1902), i. 

2 E. Monseur, Le Folklore wallon, 290 ; G. Finamore, Credenze, usi e 
p. 61 ; A. de Nore, Coutuvies, mythes costumi Abruzzesi (Palermo, 1890), 
et traditions des provinces de France, p. 48. 

pp. 101, 160, 223,267, 284; B. Souche, ^ North Indian Notes and Queries, 

Croyances,prisageset traditions diverses, i. p. 102, § 673. Compare id, p. 47, 

p. 23 ; P. Sebillot, Traditions et super- § 356 ; Indian Notes and Queries, iv. 

stitions de la Haute-Bretagne, ii. 352; p. 184, § 674; W. Crooke, Popular 

J . Lecceur, Esguisses du bocage nor- Religion and Folklore of Northern India 

mand, ii. 13 ; L. Pineau, Folk-lore (Westminster, 1896), i. 82. 
du Poitou (Paris, 1892), pp. 525 sq. ^ W. Ellis, Polynesian Researches,"^ 

3 L. F. Sauv^, Le Folk-lore des iii. 171. 


child.^ On the Biloch frontier of the Punjaub each man is 
held to have his star,- and he may not journey in particular 
directions when his star is in certain positions. If duty 
compels him to travel in the forbidden direction, he takes 
care before setting out to bury his star, or rather a figure 
of it cut out of cloth, so that it may not see what he is 
The fall of Which, if any, of these superstitions moved the barbarous 

the kings jjorians of old to depose their kings whenever at a certain 
season a meteor flamed in the sky, we cannot say. Perhaps 
they had a vague general notion that its appearance signified 
the dissatisfaction of the higher powers with the state of the 
commonwealth ; and since in primitive society the king is 
commonly held responsible for all untoward events, what- 
ever their origin, the natural course was to relieve him of 
duties which he had proved himself incapable of discharging. 
But it may be that the idea in the minds of these rude 
barbarians was more definite. Possibly, like some people in 
Europe at the present day, they thought that every man had 
his star in the sky, and that he must die when it fell. The 
king would be no exception to the rule, and on a certain 
night of a certain year, at the end of a cycle, it might be 
customary to watch the sky in order to mark whether the 
king's star was still in the ascendant or near its setting. 
The appearance of a meteor on such a night — of a star 
precipitated from the celestial vault — might prove for the 
king not merely a symbol but a sentence of death. It 
might be the warrant for his execution. 
Reasons If the tenure of the regal office was formerly limited 

for hmiting ^mong the Spartans to eight years, we may naturally ask, 
reign to why was that precise period selected as the measure of a 
eight years, j^jj^g'g reign? The reason is probably to be found in those 
astronomical considerations which determined the early Greek 
calendar. The difficulty of reconciling lunar with solar time 
is one of the standing puzzles which has taxed the ingenuity 
of men who are emerging from barbarism. Now an octennial 

1 Maximilian Prinz zu Wied, Reise was identified with the flight of a 

in das Innere Nord-America {Coblenz, meteor or not. 

1839-1841), ii. 152. It does not, how- ^ V). C. J. Ibbetson, Outlines of 

ever, appear from the writer's state- Panjab Ethnography (Calcutta, 1883), 

ment whether the descent of the soul p. 118, § 231. 


cycle is the shortest period at the end of which sun and The 
moon really mark time together after overlapping, so to say, ""^gie t^^d 
throughout the whole of the interval. Thus, for example, it on an 
is only once in every eight years that the full moon coincides reconcile ° 
with the longest or shortest day ; and as this coincidence solar and 
can be observed with the aid of a simple dial, the observa- ™" '""^' 
tion is naturally one of the first to furnish a base for a 
calendar which shall bring lunar and solar times into toler- 
able, though not exact, harmony.-' But in early days the 
proper adjustment of the calendar is a matter of religious 
concern, since on it depends a knowledge of the right seasons 
for propitiating the deities whose favour is indispensable to 
the welfare of the community.^ No wonder, therefore, that 
the king, as the chief priest of the state, or as himself a god, 
should be liable to deposition or death at the end of an 
astronomical period. When the great luminaries had run 
their course on high, and were about to renew the heavenly 
race, it might well be thought that the king should renew 
his divine energies, or prove them unabated, under pain of 
making room for a more vigorous successor. In southern 
India, as we have seen, the king's reign and life terminated 
with the revolution of the planet Jupiter round the sun. In 
Greece, on the other hand, the king's fate seems to have 
hung in the balance at the end of every eight years, ready 
to fly up and kick the beam as soon as the opposite scale 
was loaded with a falling star. 

The same train of thought may explain an ancient Greek The 
custom which appears to have required that a homicide should cLte^n 
be banished his country, and do penance for a period of relation to 

1 L. Ideler, Handbuck der mathe- the regulation of the calendar by the 
matischen und technischen Chronologie, solstices and equinoxes to the will of 
ii. 605 sqq. Ninety-nine lunar months the gods that sacrifices should be 
nearly coincide with eight solar years, rendered at similar times in each year, 
as the ancients well knew (Sozomenus, rather than to the strict requirements 
Historia ecclesiasHca, vii. 18). On of agriculture; and as religion un- 
the religious and political import of doubtedly makes larger demands on 
the eight years' cycle in ancient Greece the cultivator as agriculture advances, 
see especially K. O. MUUer, Orcko- the obligations of sacrifice may probably 
pienus tmd die Minyer,'^ pp. 213-218; be reckoned as of equal importance 
id., Die Dorier,'^ i. 254 sq., 333 sq., with agricultural necessities in urging 
440, ii. 96, 483 ; id.. Prolegomena the formation of reckonings in the 
zu einer wissensckaftlichen Mythologie nature of a calendar" (E. J. Payne, 
(Gottingen, 1825), pp. 422-424. History of the New World called 

2 "Ancient opinion even assigned America, ii. 280). 


the Greek eight or nine years.^ With the beginning of a new cycle 

of rebirth. °^ Sr^^t year, as it was called, it might be thought that all 

nature was regenerate, all old scores wiped out. According 

to Pindar, the dead whose guilt had been purged away by 

an abode of eight years in the nether world were born 

again on earth in the ninth year as glorious kings, athletes, 

and sages.^ The doctrine may well be an old popular belief 

rather than a mere poetical fancy. If so, it would supply 

a fresh reason for the banishment of a homicide during the 

years that the angry ghost of his victim might at any 

moment issue from its prison-house and pounce on him. 

Once the perturbed spirit had been happily reborn, he might 

be supposed to forgive, if not to forget, the man who had 

done him an injury in a former life. 

The Whatever its origin may have been, the cycle of eight 

cycle at ycars appears to have coincided with the normal length of 

Cnossus in the king's reign in other parts of Greece besides Sparta. 

Thus Minos, king of Cnossus in Crete, whose great palace 

has been unearthed in recent years, is said to have held 

King office for periods of eight years together. At the end of 

Zeus. each period he retired for a season to the oracular cave on 

Mount Ida, and there communed with his divine father Zeus, 

giving him an account of his kingship in the years that were 

past, and receiving from him instructions for his guidance 

in those which were to come.® The tradition plainly implies 

' As to the eight years' servitude of schafien, xxi. No. 4 (1903), pp. 24 

Apollo and Cadmus for the slaughter sqq. 

of dragons, see below, p. 78. For 2 piato, Meno, p. 81 A-c ; Pindar, 

the nine years' penance of the man ed. Boeckh, vol. iii. pp. 623 sq., Frag, 

who had tasted human flesh at the 98. 

festival of Zeus on Mount Lycaeus, see ^ Homer, Odyssey, xix. 178 sq., 
Pliny, Nat. hist. viii. ii sq.; Augustine, 

De civitate Dei, xviii. 17; Pausanias, '"B" ^ hlKvoxrSs, fieyiXr, TriXis, 

viii. 2. 6 ; compare Plato, Republic, , 7** " ^'''"' . , 

viii. p. 565 DE. Any god who forswore b^^Zri '"^ 
himself by the water of Styx was 

exiled for nine years from the society with the Scholia ; Plato, Laws, i. i. p. 

of his fellow-gods (Hesiod, Theogony, 624 A, B ; \id.'\ Minos, 13 sq., pp. 

793-804). On this subject see further, 319 sq.; Strabo, ix. 4. 8, p. 476; 

E. Rohde, Aj'irA*,^ ii. 2\\ sq. ; W. H. Maximus Tyrius, Dissert, xxxviii. 2; 

Roscher, " Die enneadischen und heb- Etymologicum magnum, s.v. hiviapoi, 

domadischen Fristen und Wochen der p. 343, 23 sqq. ; Valerius Maximus, i. 

altesten Griechen," Abhandlungen der 2, ext. I ; compare Diodorus Siculus, 

philolog. - histor. Klasse der Konigl. v. 78. 3. Homer's expression, ivviapoi 

Sdchsischen Gesellschaft der Wissen- ^affiKeve, has been variously explained. 


that at the end of every eight years the king's sacred powers 
needed to be renewed by intercourse with the godhead, and 
that without such a renewal he would have forfeited his 
right to the throne. We may surmise that among the Sacred 
solemn ceremonies which marked the beginning or the end ""/"'age 

, ° ° of the king 

01 the eight years cycle the sacred marriage of the king and queen 
with the queen played an important part, and that in this °^ ^°°form 
marriage we have the true explanation of the strange legend of buu and 
of Pasiphae and the bull. It was said that Pasiphae, the symbols of 
wife of King Minos, fell in love with a wondrous white bull 'he sun 
which rose from the sea, and that in order to gratify her ^" '"°°"' 
unnatural passion the artist Daedalus constructed a hollow 
wooden cow, covered with a cow's hide, in which the love- 
sick queen was hidden while the bull mounted it. The 
result of their union was the Minotaur, a monster with the 
body of a man and the head of a bull, whom the king shut 
up in the labyrinth, a building full of such winding and 
intricate passages that the prisoner might roam in it for 
ever without finding the way out.^ The legend appears to 
reflect a mythical marriage of the sun and moon, which was 
acted as a solemn rite by the king and queen of Cnossus, 
wearing the masks of a bull and cow respectively.^ To a 

I follow the interpretation which appears Fabulae, 40 ; Virgil, Ed. vi. 45 sqq. ; 
to have generally found favour both Ovid, Ars amat. i. 289 sqq. 
with the ancients, including Plato, and ^ K. Hoeck, Kreta, ii. (Gottingen, 
with modern scholars. See K. Hoeck, 1828) pp. 63-69 ; L. Preller, Griechi- 
Kreta, i. 2^^ sqq. ; K. O. Muller, iJzV sche Mythqlogie,^ ii. 119-123; W. H. 
Dorier,^ ii. 96 ; G. F. Unger, " Zeit- Roscher, tjber Selene und Verwandtes 
rechnung der Griechen und Romer," (Leipsic, 1890), pp. 135-139; id., 
in Ivan Miiller's Handbuch der klassi- Nacktrdge zu meiher Schrift iiber Selene 
schen Altertumswissenschaft, i. 569; (Leipsic, 1895), p. 3; Tiirk, in W. H. 
A. Schmidt, Handbuch der griechischen Roscher's Lexikon der griech. und rbm. 
Chronologie (Jena, 1888), p. 65; W. H. Mythologie, iii. 1666 sq. ; A. J. Evans, 
Roscher, " Die enneadischen und heb- "Mycenaean Tree and Pillar Cult," 
domadischen Fristen und Wochen der Journal of Hellenic Studies, ■y.Td.(\t)0\) 
altesten Griechen," Abhandlungen der p. 181 ; A. B. Cook, "Zeus, Jupiter, 
philolog.-histor.Klasse der Kbnigl. Sack- and the Oak," Classical Review, xwii. 
sischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, (1903) pp. 406-412; compare id., 
xxi. No. 4 (Leipsic, 1903), pp. 22 sq. ; "The European Sky-god," Folklore, 
E. Rohde, /'jyf,4«,3 i. 128 J^. Literally xv. (1904) p. 272. All these writers, 
interpreted, ivviapo^ means "for nine except Mr. Cook, regard Minos and 
years," not " for eight years. " But see Pasiphae as representing the sun and 
above, p. 59, note '. moon. Mr. Cook agrees so far as 
1 Apollodorus, iii. i. 3 sq., iii. 15. relates to Minos, but he supposes 
8 ; Diodorus Siculus, iv. 77 ; Schol. on Pasiphae to be a sky-goddess or sun- 
Euripides, Hippolytus, 887 ; J. Tzetzes, goddess rather than a goddess of the 
Chiliades, i. 479 sqq. ; Hyginus, moon. On the other hand, he was 


pastoral people a bull is the most natural type of vigorous 
reproductive energy/ and as such is a iitting emblem of the 
sun. Islanders who, like many of the Cretans, see the sun 
daily rising from the sea, might readily compare him to a 
white bull issuing from the waves. Indeed, we are expressly 
told that the Cretans called the sun a bull.^ Similarly in 
ancient Egypt the sacred bull Mnevis of Heliopolis (the 
City of the Sun) was deemed an incarnation of the Sun- 
god,^ and for thousands of years the kings of Egypt 
delighted to be styled " mighty bull " ; many of them 
inscribed the title on their serekh or cognisance, which 
set forth their names in their character of descendants 
of Horus.* The identification of Pasiphae, " she who shines 
on all," with the moon was made long ago by Pausanias, 
who saw her image along with that of the sun in a sanctuary 
on that wild rocky coast of Messenia where the great range 
of Taygetus descends seaward in a long line of naked crags.^ 
The horns of the waxing or waning moon naturally suggest 
the resemblance of the luminary to a white cow ; hence the 
ancients represented the goddess of the moon drawn by a 
team of white cattle.^ When we remember that at the 
court of Egypt the king and queen figured as god and 
goddess in solemn masquerades, where the parts of animal- 
headed deities were played by masked men and women,' we 
need have no difficulty in imagining that similar dramas 
may have been performed at the court of a Cretan king, 
whether we suppose them to have been imported from 
Egypt or to have had an independent origin. 

the first to suggest that the myth was E. A. Wallis Budge, The Gods of the 

periodically acted by the king and queen £^'/ft'flKi (London, 1904), i. 330. 

of Cnossus disguised in bovine form. * E. A. Wallis Budge, The Cods of 

' Compare The Magic Art and the the Egyptians, i. 25. 

Evolution of Kings, ii. 368 sq. * Pausanias, i. 26. i. For a de- 

^ Bekker's Anecdota Graeca, i. 344, scription of the scenery of this coast, 

s.v. '\8lovvlos TaOpos. see Morritt, in Walpole's Memoirs re- 

3 Eusebius, Praefaratio Evangelii, lating to European Turkey, \? p. 54. 

iii. 13. I sq. ; Diodorus Siculus, i. 84. * W. H. Roscher, Uber Selene und 

4, i. 88. 4; Strabo, xvii. i. 22 and Verwandtes, pp. 30-33. 

27, pp. 803, 80s J Aelian, De natura ' See The Magic Art and the Evohi- 

attimalium, id. II; Suidas, i'.z'. "Arris ; tion of Kings, ii. 130 sqq. We are 

Ammianus Marcellinus, xxii. 14. 7 ; told that Egyptian sovereigns assumed 

A. Wiedemann, Herodots Zweites the masks of lions, bulls, and serpents 

Buch, p. 552; A. Erman, Die dgyp- as symbols of power (Diodorus Siculus, 

tische Religion (Berlin, 1905), p. 26; i. 62. 4). 


The stories of Zeus and Europa, and of Minos and The same 
Britomartis or Dictynna appear to be only different ex-^^y*^^""^ 
pressions of the same myth, different echoes of the same of the 
custom. The moon rising from the sea was the fair maiden ^^thfsun 
Europa coming across the heaving billows from the far and moon 
eastern land of Phoenicia, borne or pursued by her suitor the uiTstories 
solar bull. The moon setting in the western waves was the °f ^eus and 
coy Britomartis or Dictynna, who plunged into the sea to Minos and 
escape the warm embrace of her lover Minos, himself the '^"'°." 

. niartis. 

sun. The story how the drowning maiden was drawn up m 
a fisherman's net rnay well be, as some have thought, the 
explanation given by a simple seafaring folk of the moon's 
reappearance from the sea in the east after she had sunk 
into it in the west.-' To the mythical fancy of the ancients 
the moon was a coy or a wanton maiden, who either fled 
from or pursued the sun every month till the fugitive was 
overtaken and the lovers enjoyed each other's company at 
the time when the luminaries are in conjunction, namely, in 
the interval between the old and the new moon. Hence on The con- 
the principles of sympathetic magic that interval was con- jhe'sun" ° 
sidered the time most favourable for human marriages, and moon 
When the sun and moon are wedded in the sky, men and^^j^g^g^t 
women should be wedded on earth. And for the same time for 
reason the ancients chose the interlunar day for the celebra- 
tion of the Sacred Marriages of gods and goddesses. Similar 
beliefs and customs based on them have been noted among 
other peoples.^ It is likely, therefore, that a king and queen 

I As to Minos and Britomartis or Moschus describes (ii. S^sqq.) the bull 

Dictynna, see Callimachus, Hymn to which carried off Europa as yellow in 

Diana, iSg'sqq.; Pausanias, ii. 30. 3 ; colour with a silver circle shining on 

Antoninus Liberalis, Transform. 40 ; his forehead, and he compares the 

Diodorus Siculus, v. 76. On Brito- bull's horns to those of the moon, 
martis as a moon - goddess, see K. ^ See W. H. Roscher, op. cit. pp. 

Hoeck, A>e^a, ii. 1 70 ; W. H. Roscher, 76-82. Amongst the passages of 

Uber Selene und Verwandtes, pp. 45 classical writers which he cites are 

sg., 1 1 6- 1 1 8. Hoeck acutely perceived Plutarch, De facie in orbe liinae, 30 ; 

that the pursuit of Britomartis by Minos id., Isis et Osiris, 52; Comutus, 

"is a trait of old festival customs in Theologiae Graecae compendium, 34, 

which the conceptions of the sun-god p. 72, ed. C. Lang ; Proclus, on Hesiod, 

were transferred to the king of the Works and Days, 780 ; Macrobius, 

island." As to the explanation here Commentar. in Somnium Scipionis, i. 

adopted of the myth of Zeus and 18. 10 sq.; Pliny, Nat. hist. ii. 45. 

Europa, seeK. Hoeck, ^i^i^^a, i. <)osqq.; When the sun and moon were eclipsed, 

W. H. Roscher, op. cit. pp. 128-135. ^^ Tahitians supposed that the lumin- 




of the 
king and 
queen as 
tives of the 
sun and 

tribute of 
youths and 
required as 
a means of 
the sun's 
fire by 


a bull- 
image of 
the sun. 

who represented the sun and moon may have been expected 
to exercise their conjugal rights above all at the time when 
the moon was thought to rest in the arms of the sun. 
However that may have been, it would be natural that their 
union should be consummated with unusual solemnity every 
eight years, when the two great luminaries, so to say, meet 
and mark time together once more after diverging from 
each other more or less throughout the interval. It is true 
that sun and moon are in conjunction once every month, 
but every month their conjunction takes place at a different 
point in the sky, until eight revolving years have brought 
them together again in the same heavenly bridal chamber 
where first they met. 

Without being unduly rash we may surmise that the 
tribute of seven youths and seven maidens whom the 
Athenians were bound to send to Minos every eight years 
had some connexion with the renewal of the king's power 
for another octennial cycle. Traditions varied as to the 
fate which awaited the lads and damsels on their arrival in 
Crete ; but the common view appears to have been that 
they were shut up in the labyrinth, there, to be devoured 
by the Minotaur, or at least to be imprisoned for life.^ 
Perhaps they were sacrificed by being roasted alive in a 
bronze image of a bull, or of a bull-headed man, in order to 
renew the strength of the king and of the sun, whom he 
personated. This at all events is suggested by the legend 
of Talos, a bronze man who clutched people to his breast 
and leaped with them into the fire, so that they were roasted 
alive. He is said to have been given by Zeus to Europa, 
or by Hephaestus to Minos, to guard the island of Crete, 
which he patrolled thrice daily.^ According to one 
account he was a bull,^ according to another he was the 

arias were in' the act of copulation 
(J. Wilson, Missionary Voyage to the 
Southern Pacific Ocean (London, 1799), 
p. 346). 

' Plutarch, Theseus, 15 sq.; Diod- 
orus Siculus, iv. 61 ; Pausanias, i. 27. 
10; Ovid, Metam. viii. I'josq, Ac- 
cording to another account, the tribute 
of youths and maidens was paid every 
year. See Virgil, Aen. vi. 14 sqq., 
with the commentary of Servius ; 

Hyginus, Fabulae, 41. 

^ ApoUodorus, i. 9. 26 ; ApoUonius 
Rhodius, Argon, iv. 162,^ sqq., with the 
scholium ; Agatharchides, in Photius, 
Bibliotheca, p. 443 b, lines 22-25, ^<'' 
Bekker ; Lucian, De saltatione, 49 ; 
Zenobius, v. 85 ; Suidas, s.v. Sapddvios 
y4\uis ; Eustathius on Homer, Odyssey, 
XX. 302, p. 1893 ; Schol. on Plato, 
Republic, i. p. 337 a. 

5 ApoUodorus, i. 9. 26. 


sun.^ Probably he was identical with the Minotaur, and 
stripped of his mythical features was nothing but a bronze 
image of the sun represented as a man with a bull's head. In 
order to renew the solar fires, human victims may have been 
sacrificed to the idol by being roasted in its hollow body or 
placed on its sloping hands and allowed to roll into a pit of 
fire. It was in the latter fashion that the Carthaginians 
sacrificed their offspring to Moloch. The children were laid 
on the hands of a calf-headed image of bronze, from which 
they slid into a fiery oven, while the people danced to the 
music of flutes and timbrels to drown the shrieks of the 
burning victims.^ The resemblance which the Cretan tradi- 
tions bear to the Carthaginian practice suggests that the 
worship associated with the names of Minos and the 
Minotaur may have been powerfully influenced by that of a 
Semitic Baal.* In the tradition of Phalaris, tyrant of Agrigen- 
tum, and his brazen bull * we may have an echo of similar rites 
in Sicily, where the Carthaginian power struck deep roots. 

But perhaps the youths and maidens who were sent Dance 
across the sea to Cnossus had to perform certain religious youths and 
duties before they were cast into the fiery furnace. The maidens at 
same cunning artist Daedalus who planned the labyrinth 
and contrived the wooden cow for Pasiphae was said to 
have made a dance for Ariadne, daughter of Minos. It 
represented youths and maidens dancing in ranks, the 
youths armed with golden swords, the maidens crowned with 
garlands.^ Moreover, when Theseus landed with Ariadne in 
Delos on his return from Crete, he and the young com- 
panions whom he had rescued from the Minotaur are said 
to have danced a mazy dance in imitation of the intricate 
windings of the labyrinth ; on account of its sinuous turns 
the dance was called " the Crane." " Taken together, these 
two traditions suggest that the youths and maidens who 

' Hesychius, s.v. TaXiis. who drew his account from a book 

2 Diodorus Siculus, xx. 14 ; Clitar- Jalkut by Rabbi Simeon, 

chus, cited by Suidas, s.v. ^apSdvios 3 Co„jpareM. Mayer.y.z/. "Kronos," 

7AUS, and by the Scholiast on Plato, in W. H. Roscher's Lexikon d. griech. 

Republic, p. 337 A ; Plutarch, De super- u. rdm. Mythologie, iii. 1501 sqq. 

stitione, 13 ; Paulus Fagius, quoted by * J. Tzetzes, Chiliades, i. 646 sqq. 

Selden, De dis Syris (Leipsic, 1668), * Homer, Iliad, xviii. 590 sqq. 

pp. 169 sq. The calfs head of the ^ Plutarch, Theseus, 21 ; Julius 

idol is mentioned only by P. Fagius, Pollux, iv. loi. 


were sent to Cnossus had to dance in the labyrinth before 
they were sacrificed to the bull-headed image. At all 
events there are good grounds for thinking that there was a 
famous dance which the ancients regularly associated with 
the Cretan labyrinth. 
The game Among the Romans that dance appears to have been 

of Troy, known from the earliest times by the name of Troy or the 
Game of Troy. Tradition ran that it was imported into 
Italy by Aeneas, who transmitted it through his son Ascanius 
to the Alban kings, who in their turn handed it down to the 
Romans. It was performed by bands of armed youths on 
horseback. Virgil compares their complicated evolutions to 
the windings of the Cretan labyrinth ; -^ and that the com- 
parison is more than a mere poetical flourish appears from a 
drawing on a very ancient Etruscan vase found at Traglia- 
tella. The drawing represents a. procession of seven beard- 
less warriors dancing, accompanied by two armed riders on 
horseback, who are also beardless. An inscription proves 
that the scene depicted is the Game of Troy ; and attached 
to the procession is a figure of the Cretan labyrinth,^ the 
pattern of which is well known from coins of Cnossus on 
which it is often represented.^ The same pattern, identified 
by an inscription, " Labyrinthus, hie habitat Minotaurus" is 
scratched on a wall at Pompeii ; and it is also worked in 
mosaic on the floor of Roman apartments, with the figures 
of Theseus and the Minotaur in the middle.* Roman boys 
appear to have drawn the very same pattern on the ground 
and to have played a game on it, probably a miniature Game 
of Troy.^ Labyrinths of similar type occur as decorations 
on the floors of old churches, where they are known as " the 
Road of Jerusalem '' ; they were used for processions. The 
garden mazes of the Renaissance were modelled on them. 
Moreover, they are found very commonly in the north of 
Europe, marked out either by raised bands of turf or by 

^ As to the Game of Troy, see spieles," appended to W. Reichel's 

Virgil, Aen. v. S4S-603; Plutarch, tjber homerische Waffen (Vienna, 

Cato, 3; Tacitus, Annals, xi. 11; 1894), pp. 133-139. 
Suetonius, ^a^/w^/w, 43 ; id., Tiberius, ^ O. Benndorf, of. cit. pp. 133 j'y. 

6 ; id. , Caligula, 1 8 ; id. , Nero, 6 ; W. ^ B. V. Head, Historia numorum 

SimiVs Dictionaiy of Greek and Roman (Oxford, 1887), pp. 389-391. 
Antiquities,^ s.v. " Trojae ludus" ; O. '' O. Benndorf, op. cit, pp. 134 jy. 

Benndorf, " Das Alter des Troja- ^ Pliny, Nat. hist, xxxvi. 85. 


rows of stones. Such labyrinths may be seen in Norway, 
Sweden, Denmark, Finnland, the south coast of Russian 
Lappland, and even in Iceland. They go by various names, 
such as Batylon, Wieland's House, Trojeborg, Troburg, and 
so forth, some of which clearly indicate their connexion 
with the ancient Game of Troy. They are used for children's 

A dance or game which has thus spread over Europe The dance 
and survived in a fashion to modern times must have been ^' Cnossus 

11.. . 1 . ,- perhaps an 

very popular, and beanng m mmd how often with the decay imitation 
of old faiths the serious rites and pageants of grown people °^ ** 
have degenerated into the sports of children, we may reason- course in 
ably ask whether Ariadne's Dance or the Game of Troy may *^ ^^''' 
not have had its origin in religious ritual. The ancients 
connected it with Cnossus and the Minotaur. Now we have 
seen reason to hold, with many other scholars, that Cnossus 
was the seat of a great worship of the sun, and that the 
Minotaur was a representative or embodiment of the sun- 
god. May not, then, Ariadne's dance have been an imitation 
of the sun's course in the sky ? and may not its intention 
have been, by means of sympathetic magic, to aid the great 
luminary to run his race on high ? We have seen that 
during an eclipse of the sun the Chilcotin Indians walk in 
a circle, leaning on staves, apparently to assist the labouring 
orb. In Egypt also the king, who embodied the sun-god, 
seems to have solemnly walked round the walls of a temple 
for the sake of helping the sun on his way.^ If there is any 
truth in this conjecture, it would seem to follow that the 
sinuous lines of the labyrinth which the dancers followed in 
their evolutions may have represented the ecliptic, the sun's 
apparent annual path in the sky. It is some confirmation 
of this view that on coins of Cnossus the sun or a star 
appears in the middle of the labyrinth, the place which on 
other coins is occupied by the Minotaur.' 

On the whole the foregoing evidence, slight and frag- 
mentary as it is, points to the conclusion that at Cnossus the 

1 O. Benndorf, op. cit. p. 135 ; W. vol. ii. pp. 267-300. 

Meyer, "Ein Labyrinth mit Versen," ^ See The Magic Art and the Evolu- 

Sitzungsberichte der philosoph. philolog. tion of Kings, i. 312. 

und histor. Classe der k. b, Akademie ^ B. V. Head, Historia numoriim, 

der Wissenschaften zu Miinchen, 1882, p. 389. 



clusions as 
to the king 
of Cnossus. 

of the 
at Delphi 
and the 
bearing at 


cally the 
slaying of 
a water- 

king represented the sun-god, and that every eight years his 
divine powers were renewed at a great festival, which com- 
prised, first, the sacrifice of human victims by fire to a bull- 
headed image of the sun, and, second, the marriage of the 
king disguised as a bull to the queen disguised as a cow, the 
two personating respectively the sun and the moon. 

Whatever may be thought of these speculations, we 
know that many solemn rites were celebrated by the ancient 
Greeks at intervals of eight years.'' Amongst them, two 
deserve to be noticed here, because it has been recently 
suggested, with some appearance of probability, that they 
were based on an octennial tenure of the kingship.^ One 
was the Festival of the Crowning at Delphi ; the other was 
the Festival of the Laurel - bearing at Thebes. In their 
general features the two festivals seem to have resembled 
each other very closely. Both represented dramatically the 
slaying of a great water-dragon by a god or hero ; in both, 
the lad who played the part of the victorious god or hero 
crowned his brows with a wreath of sacred laurel and had to 
submit to a penance and purification for the slaughter of the 
beast. At Delphi the legendary slayer of the iragon was 
Apollo ; at Thebes he was Cadmus.^ At both places 
the legendary penance for the slaughter seems to have 
been servitude for eight years.* The evidence for the 
rites of the Delphic festival is fairly complete, but for the 
Theban festival it has to be eked out by vase-paintings, 
which represent Cadmus crowned with laurel preparing to 

' Censorinus, De die natali, i8. 6. 

^ The suggestion was made by Mr. 
A. B. Cook. The following discussion 
of the subject is founded on his ingeni- 
ous exposition. See his article, ' ' The 
European Sky - god," Folklore, xv. 
(1904) pp. 402-424. 

2 As to the Delphic festival see 
Plutarch, Quaest. Graec. 12; id., De 
defectu oraculorum, 15 ; Strabo, ix. 
3. 12,' pp. 422 sq. ; Aelian, Var. hist. 
iii. I ; Stephanus Byzantius, s.v. 
AeiTTvlas ; K. O. Miiller, Die Dorier^ 
i. 203 sqq., 321-324 ; Aug. Mommsen, 
Delphika (Leipsic, 1878), pp. 206 sqq. ; 
Th. Schreiber, Apollo Pythoktonos, pp. 
9 sqq. ; my note on Pausanias, ii. 7- 7 
(vol. ii. 53 sqq.). As to the Theban 

festival, see Pausanias, ix. 10. 4, with 
my note ; Proclus, quoted by Photius, 
Bibliotheca, p. 321, ed. Bekker ; Aug. 
Boeckh, in his edition of Pindar, 
Explicationes, p. 590 ; K. O. MUUer, 
Onhomenus und die Minyer^ pp. 215 
sq. ; id., Dorier,^ i. 236 sq., 333 sq. ; 
C. Boetticher, Der Baumkultus der 
Hellenen, pp. 386 sqq. ; G. F. Scho- 
mann, Griechiscke Alterthiimer,* ii. 
479 ■??• 

* Apollodorus, iii. 4. 2, iii. 10. 4 ; 
Servius, on Virgil, Aen. vii. 761. 
The servitude of Apollo is tradition- 
ally associated with his slaughter of 
the Cyclopes, not of the dragon. But 
see my note on Pausanias, ii. 7. 7 
(vol. ii. pp. 53 sqq.). 


attack the dragon or actually in combat with the monster, 
While goddesses bend over the champion, holding out 
wreaths of laurel to him as the mede of victory.^ It is true 
that in historical times Apollo appears to have ousted 
Cadmus from the festival, though not from the myth. But 
at Thebes the god was plainly a late intruder, for his 
temple lay outside the walls, whereas the most ancient 
sanctuaries stood in the oldest part of the city, the low hill 
which took its name of Cadmea from the genuine Theban 
hero Cadmus.^ It is not impossible that at Delphi also, and 
perhaps at other places where the same drama was acted,^ 
Apollo may have displaced an old local hero in the honour- 
able office of dragon-slayer. 

Both at Thebes and at Delphi the dragon guarded a Both at 
spring,* the water of which was probably deemed oracular, at^xhebes'^ 
At Delphi the sacred spring may have been either Cassotis the dragon 
or the more famed Castaly, which issues from a narrow ^1™^ '° 
gorge, shut in by rocky walls of tremendous height, a little guarded 
to the east of Apollo's temple. The waters of both were oracular 
thought to be endowed with prophetic power.^ Probably, =P™g 
too, the monster was supposed to keep watch and ward over oracular 
the sacred laurel, from which the victor in the combat "^®^- 
wreathed his brows ; for in vase-paintings the Theban dragon '^^^^^ 
appears coiled beside the holy tree,® and Euripides describes and the 
the Delphic dragon as covered by a leafy laurel.'^ At all oak"" ° 

^ W. H. Roscher's I^xikon d. griech. Roberts and E. A. Gardner, Introduc- 
undrom. Mythologie, ii. 830, 838, 839. Hon to Creek Epigraphy, ii. (Cam- 
On an Etruscan mirror the scene of bridge, 1905) p. 467, No. 247. 
Cadmus's combat with the dragon is ^ Apollodorus, iii. 4. 3 ; Schol. on 
surrounded by a wreath of laurel Homer, //«W,ii. 494; Pausanias,ix. 10. 
(Roscher, op. cit. ii. 862). Mr. A. B. 5 ; Homeric Hymn to Apollo, },oo sq. 
Cook was the first to call attention to The writer of the Homeric hymn 
these vase-paintings in confirmation of merely says that Apollo slew the 
my view that the Festival of the Delphic dragon at a spring ; but Pau- 
Laurel-bearing celebrated the destruc- sanias (x. 6. 6) tells us that the beast 
tion of the dragon by Cadmus (Folk- guarded the oracle. 
lore, XV. (1904) p. 411, note ^24). 6 Pausanias, x. 8. 9, x. 24. 7, with 

2 Pausanias, ix. 10. 2; K. O. my notes; Ovid, ^znurej, i. 15. 35 jj/. ; 
Muller, Die Dorier,^ i. 237 sq. Lucian, Jupiter tragoedus, 30 ; Non- 

3 For evidence of the wide diffusion nus, Dionys. iv. 309 j-^.; Suidas, s.v. 
of the myth and the drama, see Th. Kao-raXte. 

Schreiber, ApoUon Pythoktonos, pp. * W. H. Roscher, Lexikon d. griech. 

39-50. The Laurel - bearing Apollo u. rom. Mythologie, ii. 830, 838. 
was worshipped at Athens, as we know ' Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris, 

from an inscription carved on one of 1245 sg., where the reading KardxaX- 

the seats in the theatre. See E. S. icos is clearly corrupt. 





Festival of 
at Delphi 
with the 

oracular seats of Apollo his priestess drank of the sacred 
spring and chewed the sacred laurel before she prophesied.^ 
Thus it would seem that the dragon, which at Delphi is 
expressly said to have been the guardian of the oracle,^ had 
in its custody both the instruments of divination, the holy 
tree and the holy water. We are reminded of the dragon 
or serpent, slain by Hercules, which guarded the golden 
apples of the Hesperides in the happy garden.^ But at 
Delphi the oldest sacred tree appears, as Mr. A. B. Cook 
has pointed out,* to have been not a laurel but an oak. For 
we are told that originally the victors in the Pythian games 
at Delphi wore crowns of oak leaves, since the laurel had 
not yet been created.^ Now, like the Festival of Crowning, the 
Pythian games were instituted to commemorate the slaughter 
of the dragon ; ^ like it they were originally held every eighth 
year ; ^ the two festivals were celebrated nearly at the same 
time of the year ; ^ and the representative of Apollo in the 
one and the victors in the other were adorned with crowns 
made from the same sacred laurel.^ In short, the two festivals 
appear to have been in origin substantially identical ; the 
distinction between them may have arisen when the 
Delphians decided to hold the Pythian games every fourth, 
instead of every eighth year.^" We may fairly suppose. 

1 Lucian, Bis accttsatiis, i. So the 
priest of the Clarian Apollo at Colo- 
phon drank of a secret spring before he 
uttered oracles in verse (Tacitus, Annals, 
ii. 54 ; Pliny, Nat. hist. ii. 232). 

^ Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris, 
124.$ sgf,; Apollodorus, i. 4. i ; Pau- 
sanias, x. 6. 6 ; Aelian, Var. hist. iii. 
I ; Hyginus, Fabulae, 140; Schol. on 
Homer, Iliad, ii. 5 1 9 ; Schol. on Pindar, 
Pyth. Argument, p. 298, ed. Boeckh. 

^ Euripides, Hercules Furens, 395 
sqq. ; Apollodorus, ii. 5. 11; Dio- 
dorus Siculus, iv. 26 ; Eratosthenes, 
Catasterism. 3 ; Schol. on Euripides, 
Hippolytus, 742 ; Schol. on Apol- 
lonius Rhodius, Argon, iv. 1396. 

* A. B. Cook, " The European Sky- 
god," Folklore, xv. (1904) p. 413. 

5 Ovid, Metam. i. 448 sqq. 

^ Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. 
i. I, p. 2, and ii. 34, p. 29, ed. Potter; 
Aristotle, Peplos, Frag. {Fragmenia 

historicorum Graecomm, ii. p. 189, 
No. 282, ed. C. Muller); John of 
Antioch, Frag. i. 20 (Frag, histor. 
Graec. iv. p. 539, ed. C. Miiller) ; 
Jamblichus, De Pythagor. ziit. x. 52 ; 
Schol. on Pindar, Pyth. Argum. p. 
298, ed. Boeckh ; Ovid, Metam. i. 
44S sqq.; Hyginus, Fabulae, 140. 

' Schol. on Pindar, /.f.; Censorinus, 
De die natali, 18. 6 ; compare Eusta- 
thius on Homer, Od. iii. 267, p. 
1466. 29. 

' Plutarch, De defectu oraculorum, 
3, compared with id. 15 ; Aug. 
Mommsen, Delphika, pp. 211, 214; 
Th. Schreiber, Apollon Pythoktonos 
(Leipsic, 1879), pp. 32 sqq. 

' Aelian, Var. hist. iii. i ; Schol. 
on Pindar, I.e. 

^0 On the original identity of the 
festivals see Th. Schreiber, Apollon 
Pythoktonus, pp. 37 sq.; A. B. Cook, 
\v^ Folklore, xv. (1904) pp. 404 sq. 


therefore, that the leaf- crowned victors in the Pythian 
games, Hke the laurel-wreathed boy in the Festival of 
Crowning, formerly acted the part of the god himself. But 
if in the beginning these actors in the sacred drama wore 
wreaths of oak instead of laurel, it seems to follow that the 
deity whom they personated was the oak-god Zeus rather 
than the laurel-god Apollo ; from which again we may infer 
that Delphi was a sanctuary of Zeus and the oak before it 
became the shrine of Apollo and the laurel.^ 

But why should the crown of oak have ceased to be the Substitu- 
badge of victory ? and why should a wreath of laurel have Jaurelfor*^ 
taken its place ? The abandonment of the oak crown may the oak. 
have been a consequence of the disappearance of the oak 
itself from the neighbourhood of Delphi ; in Greece, as in 
Italy, the deciduous trees have for centuries been retreating 
up the mountain sides before the advance of the evergreens.^ 
When the last venerable oak, the rustling of whose leaves in 
the breeze had long been listened to as oracular, finally suc- 
cumbed through age, or was laid low by a storm, the priests 
may have cast about for a tree of another sort to take its place. 
Yet they sought it neither in the lower woods of the valley 
nor in the dark forests which clothe the upper slopes of Par- 
nassus above the frowning cliffs of Delphi. Legend ran that 
after the slaughter of the dragon, Apollo had purged himself 
from the stain of blood in the romantic Vale of Tempe, where 
the Peneus flows smoothly in a narrow defile between the 
lofty wooded steeps of Olympus and Ossa. Here the god 
crowned himself with a laurel wreath, and thither accord- 
ingly at the Festival of Crowning his human representative 
went to pluck the laurel for his brows.^ The custom, 
though doubtless ancient, can hardly have been original. 
We must suppose that in the beginning the dragon-guarded 
tree, whether an oak or a laurel, grew at Delphi itself But 
why should the laurel be chosen as a substitute for the oak ? 
Mr. A. B. Cook has suggested a plausible answer. The 
laurel leaf resembles so closely the leaf of the ilex or holm- 

1 The inference was drawn by ^ See The Magic Art and the Evolu- 

Mr. A. B. Cook, whom I follow. tion of Kings, vol. i. p. 8. 
See his artioie, " The European ^ Aelian, Var. hist. iii. i ; Schol. 

Sky-god," Folk-lore, xv. {1904) pp. on Pindar, Pyth. Argum. p. 298, ed. 

412 sqq, / Boeckh. 




of octennial 
kings at 
Delphi and 

dragons or 

sacred to 

stories of 
the traus- 

oak in both shape and colour that an untrained observer 
may easily confuse the two. The upper surface of both is a 
dark glossy green, the lower surface shews a lighter tint. 
Nothing, therefore, could be more natural than to make the 
new wreath out of leaves which looked so like the old oak 
leaves that the substitution might almost pass undetected.^ 

Whether at Thebes, as at Delphi, the laurel had ousted 
the oak from the place of honour at the festival of the 
Slaying of the Dragon, we cannot say. The oak has long 
disappeared from the low hills and flat ground in the 
neighbourhood of Thebes, but as late as the second century 
of our era there was a forest of ancient oaks not many miles 
off at the foot of Mount Cithaeron.^ 

It has been conjectured that in ancient days the persons 
who wore the wreath of laurel or oak at the octennial festivals 
of Delphi and Thebes were no other than the priestly kings, 
who personated the god, slew their predecessors in the guise 
of dragons, and reigned for a time in their stead.^ The 
theory certainly cannot be demonstrated, but there is a good 
deal of analogy in its favour. An eight years' tenure of the 
kingship at Delphi and Thebes would accord with the similar 
tenure of the office at Sparta and Cnossus. And if the kings 
of Cnossus disguised themselves as bulls, there seems no 
reason why the kings of Delphi and Thebes should not have 
personated dragons or serpents. In all these cases the animal 
whose guise the king assumed would be sacred to the royal 
family. At first the relation of the beast to the man would 
be direct and simple ; the creature would be revered for some 
such reason as that for which a savage respects a certain 
species of animals, for example, because he believes that his 
ancestors were beasts of the same sort, or that the souls of his 
dead are lodged in them. In later times the sanctity of the 
species would be explained by saying that a god had at some 
time, and for some reason or other, assumed the form of the 
animal. It is probably not without significance that in 
Greek mythology the gods in general, and Zeus in particular, 

1 A. B. Cook, "The European Sky- 
god," Folk-lore, xv. (1904) pp. 423 

2 Pausanias, ix. 3. 4. See The 

Magic Art and the Evolution Of Kings, 
vol. ii. p. 140. 

3 A. B. Cook, "The European Sky- 
goi," Folk-lore, 7LV. {I904)pp. ^02sqq. 


are commonly said to have submitted to this change of shape formation 
for the purpose of prosecuting a love adventure. Such into°j,g!^5ts 
stories may well reflect a custom of a Sacred Marriage at po'^t 'o ^ 
which the actors played the parts of the worshipful animals, a sacred 
With the growth of culture these local worships, the relics of ™^"?g« 
a barbarous age, would be explained away by tales of the the actors 
loves of the gods, and, gradually falling out of practice, would ™asquer- 
survive only as myths. animals. 

It is said that at the festival of the Wolf-god Zeus, held Analogy 
every nine years on the Wolf-mountain in Arcadia, a man society of 
tasted of the bowel of a human victim mixed with the bowels Arcadia 

to the 

of animals, and having tasted it he was turned into a wolf, and Leopard 
remained a wolf for nine years, when he changed back again ^"•^''''y °^ 
into a man if in the interval he had abstained from eating Africa, 
human flesh.'' The tradition points to the existence of a 
society of cannibal wolf-worshippers, one or more of whom 
personated, and were supposed to embody, the sacred animal 
for periods of nine years together. Their theory and practice 
would seem to have agreed with those of the Human Leopard 
Societies of western Africa, whose members disguise them- 
selves in the skins of leopards with sharp claws of steel. In 
that guise they attack and kill men in order to eat their 
flesh or to extract powerful charms from their bodies.^ 
Their mode of gaining recruits is like that of the Greek 
Wolf Society. When a visitor came to a village inhabited 
by a Leopard Society, " he was invited to partake of food, 
in which was mixed a small quantity of human flesh. The 
guest all unsuspectingly partook of the repast, and was after- 
wards told that human flesh formed one of the ingredients of 
' the meal, and that it was then necessary that he should join 
the society, which was invariably done." ^ As the ancient 
Greeks thought that a man might be turned into a wolf, so 
these negroes believe that he can be changed into a leopard ; 
and, like the Greeks, some of them fancy that if the trans- 
formed man abstains during his transformation from preying 

' Plato, Republic, viii. p. 565 DB; West Africa, pp. 536-543 5 T. J. 

Polybius, vii. 13; Pliny, Nat. hist. hWdxiAgt, The Sherbro and its Hi7iter- 

viii. 81 ;' Varro, cited by Augustine, /)« /aK(f(London, igoij.pp. 153-159; com- 

civitate Dei, xviii. 17 ; Pausanias, vi. pare R. H. Nassau, Fetichism in West 

Z. 2 viii. 2. 3-6. Africa (London, 1904), pp. 200-203. 
'2 Mary H. Kingsley, Travels in ' T. J. AUrlridge, <;;>.«■/■. p. 154. 


on his fellows he can regain his human shape, but that if he 

once laps human blood he must remain a leopard for ever.^ 

Legend of The hypothesis that the ancient kings of Thebes and 

formation Delphi had for their sacred animal the serpent or dragon, and 

of Cadmus claimed kinship with the creature, derives some countenance 

mraial^to fro*" "^^ tradition that at the end of their lives Cadmus and 

serpents, his wife Harmonia quitted Thebes and went to reign over a 

tribe of Encheleans or Eel-men in Illyria, where they were 

both finally transformed into dragons or serpents.^ To the 

primitive mind an eel is a water - serpent ;* it can hardly, 

therefore, be an accident that the serpent -killer afterwards 

reigned over a tribe of eel-men and himself became a serpent at 

last. Moreover, according to one account, his wife Harmonia 

was a daughter of the very dragon which he slew.* The 

tradition would fit in well with the hypothesis that the dragon 

or serpent was the sacred animal of the old royal house of 

Thebes, and that the kingdom fell to him who slew his 

predecessor and married his daughter. We have seen reason 

to think that such a mode of succession to the throne was 

Trans- common in antiquity.^ The story of the final transformation 

"ftie'souis °^ Cadmus and Harmonia into snakes may be a relic of a 

of the belief that the souls of the dead kings and queens of Thebes 

transmigrated into the bodies of serpents, just as Caffre kings 

turn at death into boa-constrictors or deadly black snakes.® 

Indeed the notion that the souls of the dead lodge in serpents 

is widely spread in Africa and Madagascar.'^ Other African 

tribes believe that their dead kings and chiefs turn into lions, 

leopards, hyaenas,pythons, hippopotamuses, or other creatures, 

and the animals are respected and spared accordingly.® In 

1 A. Bastian, Die deutsche Expedi- Cadmus slew. On the theory here 

tion an der Loango-Kiiste, ii. 248. suggested this Euhemevistic version of 

^ ApoIIodorus, iii. 5- 4 5 Strabo, vii. the story is substantially right. 

7. 8, p. 326; Ovid, Metam. iv. 563- ^ See The Magic Art and the Evolu- 

603 ; Hyginus, Fabulae, 6 ; Nicander, tion of Kings, ii. 268 sqq. 

Theriaca, 607 sqq. ' David Leslie, Among the Zulus 

^ A. van Gennep, Tabou et totS- ffl?2(/.<4?«afeK^fl^, Second Edition (Edin- 

misme h Madagascar (Paris, 1904), burgh, 1875), p. 213. Compare H. 

p. 326. Callaway, The Religious System of the 

* Dercylus, quoted by a scholiast on Amazulu, Part II., pp. 196, 211. 

Euripides, Phoenissae, 7 ; Fraginenta ' See Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second 

Mstoricorum Graecorum, ed. C. Miiller, Edition, pp. 73 sqq. 

iv. 387. The writer rationalises the ^ D. Livingstone, Missionary 

legend by representing the dragon as Travels and Researches in South 

a, Theban man of that name whom Africa, p. 615 ; Miss A. Werner, 

dead into 


like manner the Semang and other wild tribes of the Malay 
Peninsula imagine that the souls of their chiefs, priests, and 
magicians transmigrate at death into the bodies of certain 
wild beasts, such as elephants, tigers, and rhinoceroses, and 
that in their bestial form the dead men extend a benign 
protection to their living human kinsfolk.^ Even during their Kings 
lifetime kings in rude society sometimes claim kinship with ^J,^™ ^(^' 
the most formidable beasts of the country. Thus the royal the most 
family of Dahomey specially worships the leopard ; some of ^^2^1 
the king's wives are distinguished by the title of Leopard 
Wives, and on state occasions they wear striped cloths 
to resemble the animal.^ One king of Dahomey, on 
whom the French made war, bore the name of Shark ; 
hence in art he was represented sometimes with a shark's 
body and a human head, sometimes with a human • 
body and the head of a shark.^ The Trocadero Museum 
at Paris contains the wooden images of three kings of 
Dahomey who reigned during the nineteenth century, and 
who are all represented partly in human and partly in animal 
form. One of them, Guezo, bore the surname of the Cock, 
and his image represents him as a man covered with feathers. 
His son Guelel6, who succeeded him on the throne, was 
surnamed the Lion, and his effigy is that of a lion rampant 
with tail raised and hair on his body, but with human feet 
and hands. Gueleld was succeeded on the throne by his 
son Behanzin, who was surnamed the Shark, and his effigy 
portrays him standing upright with the head and body of 
a fish, the fins and scales being carefully represented, while 
his arms and legs are those of a man.* Again, a king of 

The Natives of British Central Africa I W. W. Skeat and C. O. Blagden, 

(London, 1906), p. 64; L. Decle, Pagan Races of the Malay Peninsula 

Three Years in Savage Africa (Lon- (London, 1906), ii. 194, 197, 221, 

don, 1898), p. 74; J. Roscoe, "The 227, 305. 

Bahima," journal of the Anthropolo- ^ A. B. Ellis, The Ewe-speaking 

gical Institute, xxxvii. (1907) pp. loi Peoples of the Slave Coast, pp. "J^sq. 
sq. ; Major J. A. Meldon, " Notes on ^ This I learned from Professor 

the Bahima," Journal of the African F. von Luschan in the Anthropological 

Society, No. 22 (January, 1907), pp. Museum at Berlin. 
151-153; J. A. Chisholm, "Notes on ^ M. Delafosse, in La Nature, No. 

the Manners and Customs of the 1086 (March 24th, 1894), pp. 262-266 ; 

Winamwanga and Wiwa," Journal of J. G. Frazer, " Statues of Three 

the African Society, No. 36 (July, Kings of Dahomey," j^/o«, viii. (1908) 

1910), pp. 374, 375 ; P. Alois Ham- pp. 130-132. King Behanzin, sur- 

berger, in ^Krtro/iJJ-, V. (1910) p. 802. named the Shark, is doubtless the 




Benin was called Panther, and a bronze statue of him, now 
in the Anthropological Museum at Berlin, represents him 
with a panther's whiskers.^ Such portraits furnish an exact 
parallel to what I conceive to be the true story of the 
Minotaur. On the Gold Coast of Africa a powerful ruler is 
commonly addressed as " O Elephant ! " or " O Lion ! " and 
one of the titles of the king of Ashantee, mentioned at great 
ceremonies, is borri, the name of a venomous snake.^ It has 
been argued that King David belonged to a serpent family, 
and that the brazen serpent, which down to the time of 
Hezekiah was worshipped with fumes of burning incense,^ 
represented the old sacred animal of his house.* In Europe 
the bull, the serpent, and the wolf would naturally be on the 
list of royal beasts. 

If the king's soul was believed to pass at death into the 
sacred animal, a custom might arise of keeping live creatures 
animal at of the species in captivity and revering them as the souls of 
dead rulers. This would explain the Athenian practice of 
keeping a sacred serpent on the Acropolis and feeding 
it with honey cakes ; for the serpent was identified with 
Erichthonius or Erechtheus, one of the ancient kings of 
Athens, of whose palace some vestiges have been discovered 
in recent times. The creature was supposed to guard the 
citadel. During the Persian invasion a report that the 
serpent had left its honey -cake untasted was one of the 
strongest reasons which induced the people to abandon 
Athens to the enemy ; they thought that the holy reptile had 
forsaken the city.' Again, Cecrops, the first king of Athens, 

King of Dahomey referred to by Pro- 
fessor von Luschan (see the preceding 

1 The statue was pointed out to 
me and explained by Professor F. von 

2 A. B. Ellis, The Tshi-speaking 
Peoples of the Gold Coast, pp. 205 sq. 

3 2 Kings xviii. 4. 

* W. Robertson Smith, "Animal 
Worship and Animal TxCoes,,''' Journal 
of Philology, ix. (1880) pp. 99 J?. Pro- 
fessor T. K. Cheyne prefers to suppose 
that the brazen serpent and the brazen 
"sea" in the temple at Jerusalem were 
borrowed from Babylon and represented 

the great dragon, the impersonation of 
the primaeval watery chaos. See En- 
cyclopaedia Biblica, s.v. "Nehushtan," 
vol. i. coll. 3387. The two views are 
perhaps not wholly irreconcilable. See 
below, pp. Ill sq. 

^ Herodotus, viii. 41 ; Plutarch, The- 
mistocles, 10 ; Aristophanes, ZyjzV/rato, 
758 j^., with the Scholium; Philostra- 
t'^s, Imagi7zes,i\. 17. 6. Some said that 
there were two serpents (Hesychius and 
Photius, Lexicon, s.v. oiKovpbv dipiv). 
For the identity of the serpent with 
Erichthonius, see Pausanias, i. 24. 7 ; 
Hyginus, Astronomica, ii . 13; Ter- 
tullian, De spectaculis, 9 ; - compare 


is said to have been half-serpent and half-man ;^ in art he is 
represented as a man from the waist upwards, while the 
lower part of his body consists of the coils of a serpent.^ 
It has been suggested that like Erechtheus he was identical 
with the serpent on the Acropolis.^ Once more, we are told 
that Cychreus gained the kingdom of Salamis by slaying a 
snake which ravaged the island,* but that after his death he, 
like Cadmus, appeared in the form of the reptile.^ Some 
said that he was a man who received the name of Snake on 
agcount of his cruelty.® Such tales may preserve reminis- 
cences of kings who assumed the style of serpents in their 
lifetime and were believed to transmigrate into serpents after 
death. Like the dragons of Thebes and Delphi, the Athenian 
serpent appears to have been conceived as a creature of the 
waters ; for the serpent-man Erechtheus was identified with 
the water-god Poseidon,'^ and in his temple, the Erechtheum, 
where the serpent lived, there was a tank which went by the 
name of " the sea of Erechtheus." ^ 

If the explanation of the eight years' cycle which I have The 
adopted holds good for Thebes and Delphi, the octennial cadmus ° 
festivals held at these places probably had some reference and Har- 

. ^ . 1 . . , monia at 

to the sun and moon, and may have comprised a sacred xhebes 
marriage of these luminaries. The solar character of Apollo, ™ay have 

Philostratus, Vit. Apoll. vii. 24 ; and * ApoUodorus, iii. 12.7; Diodorus 

for the identity of Erichthonius and Siculus, iv. 72 ; J. Tzetzes, Schol. on 

Erechtheus,seeSchol. on Homer, 7/zarf, Lycophron, no, 175,451. 

ii. 547; Etymologicum magnum, p. * Fausanias, i. 36. i. Another 

371, J.w. 'Bpex9ei)s. According to some, version of the story was that Cychreus 

the upper part of Erichthonius was bred a snake which ravaged the island 

human and the lower part or only the and was driven out by Eurylochus, 

feet serpentine. See Hyginus, Fabidae, after which Demeter received the 

166; id., Astronomica, \\. 13; Schol. creature at Eleusis as one of her 

on Plato, Timaeus, p. 23 D ; Eiymo- attendants (Hesiod, quoted by Strabo, 

logicum magnum. I.e. ; Servius on ix. i. 9, p. 393). 

Virgil, Georg. iii. 13. See further my ^ Stephanus Byzantius, s.v. Kuxpefos 

notes on Pausanias i. 18. 2 and i. 26. ^^705 ; Eustathius, Commentary on 

5, vol. ii. pp. 168 sqq., 330 sqq. Dionysius, 507, in Geografhi Graeci 

1 ApoUodorus, iii. 14. I ; Aristo- minores, ed. C. Muller, ii. 314. 
phanes. Wasps, 438. Compare J. '' Hesychius, s.v. 'Epcx^eiis ; Athen- 
Tzetzes, Chiliades, v. 641. - agoras, Supplicatio pro Christianis, i ; 

2 W. H. Roscher, Lexikon d. griech. [Plutarch], Vit. X. Orat. p. 843 B C ; 
und rom. Mythologie, \\. 1019. Com- Corpus inscripiionum Atlicarum, i. 'iHo. 
pare Euripides, /ffK, 1 163 J-??. 387, iii. Nos. 276, 805; compare 

3 O. Immisch, in W. H. Roscher's Pausanias, i. 26. 5. 

Lexikon d. griech. undrom. Mythologie, 8 ApoUodorus, iii. 14. i ; Herodotus, 

ii. 1023. viii. 55; compare Pausanias, viii. 10. 4. 


been a whether original or adventitious, lends some countenance to 
dramatic ^j^j^ ^j^^ 1^^^^ ^^ l^^^j^ Delphi and Thebes the god was 

representa- ' ^ ° 

tion of apparently an intruder who usurped the place of an older 
™™;o„» god or hero at the festival. At Thebes that older hero was 

marriage t» 

of the sun Cadmus. Now Cadmus was a brother of Europa, who 

at'the'end appears to havc been a personification of the moon conceived 

of the eight in the form of a cow.^ He travelled westward seeking his 

years eye e. j^^^ sister till he came to Delphi, where the oracle bade him 

give up the search and follow a cow which had the white 

mark of the full moon on its flank ; wherever the cow fell 

down exhausted, there he was to take up his abode and 

found a city. Following the cow and the directions of the 

oracle he built Thebes.^ Have we not here in another form 

the myth of the moon pursued and at last overtaken by the 

sun ? and the famous wedding of Cadmus and Harmonia, to 

attend which all the gods came down from heaven,^ may it 

not have been at once the mythical marriage of the great 

luminaries and the ritual marriage of the king and queen of 

Thebes masquerading, like the king and queen of Cnossus, 

in the character of the lights of heaven at the octennial 

festival which celebrated and symbolised the conjunction of 

the sun and moon after their long separation, their harmony 

after eight years of discord ? A better name for the bride 

at such a wedding could hardly have been chosen than 


This This theory is supported by a remarkable feature of the 

theory festival. At the head of the procession, immediately in front 

confirmed ^ ' ^ 

by the of the Laurel-bearer, walked a youth who carried in his 
cafsymbois hands a staff of olive-wood draped with laurels and flowers, 
carried by To the top of the Staff was fastened a bronze globe, with 
bearer^'^'^^ Smaller globcs hung from it ; to the middle of the staff were 
at the attached a globe of medium size and three hundred and 
festival of sixty-fivc purple ribbands, while the lower part of the staff 
Laurel- ^3.3 swathed in a saffron pall. The largest globe, we are 
told, signified the sun, the smaller the moon, and the smallest 

' See above, p. 73. Hyginus. 

2 Apollodorus, iii. 4. I sq. ; Pans- ^ ApoUodorus, iii. 4. 2 ; Euripides, 

anias, ix. 12. 1 sq. ; Schol. on Homer, Phoenissae, 822 sq.% Pindar, Pyth. 

Iliad, ii. 494 ; Hyginus, Fabulae, 178. iii. 155 sqq. ; Diodorus Siculus, v. 49. 

The mark of the moon on the cow is I ; Pausanias, iii. 18. 12, ix. 12. 3 ; 

mentioned only by Pausanias and Schol. on Homer, Iliad, ii. 494. 


the stars, and the purple ribbands stood for the course of 
the year, being equal in number to the days comprised in it.'^ 
The choir of virgins who followed the Laurel-bearer singing 
hymns ^ may have represented the Muses, who are said to 
have sung and played at the marriage of Cadmus and Har- 
monia ; down to late times the very spot in the market-place 
was shewn where they had discoursed their heavenly music.^ 
We may conjecture that the procession of the Laurel-bear- 
ing was preceded by a dramatic performance of the Slaying 
of the Dragon, and that it was followed by a pageant repre- 
sentative of the nuptials of Cadmus and Harmonia in the 
presence of the gods. On this hypothesis Harmonia, the 
wife of Cadmus, is only another form of his sister Europa, 
both of them being personifications of the moon. Accord- 
ingly in the Samothracian mysteries, in which the marriage 
of Cadmus and Harmonia appears to have been celebrated, 
it was Harmonia and not Europa whose wanderings were 
dramatically represented.* The gods who quitted Olympus 
to grace the wedding by their presence were probably 
represented in the rites, whether celebrated at Thebes or in 
Samothrace, by men and women attired as deities. In like 
manner at the marriage of a Pharaoh the courtiers masquer- 
aded in the likeness of the animal-headed Egyptian gods.^ 
Within historical times the great Olympic festival was 

1 Proclus, quoted by Photius, Biblio- scene on the eastern frieze of the 
iheca, p. 321, ed. Bekker. Parthenon represents the king and 

2 Proclus / c queen of Athens about to take their 
.„.,'',... „. places among the enthroned deities. 

3 Pindar, Pyth. m. ISS sqq. ; Die- |^^ j^;^ ^^^^^^ ,. 2eus, Jupiter, and the 
dorus Siculus V. 49- I ; Pausamas, ix. ^^^ „ classical Review, xviii. (1904) 
12. 3; Schol. on Homer, Iliad, n. ^ ^^^ ^^ ^j^^ ^^^^^^ ^„ the frieze 
494- appear to have been copied from the 

^ Schol. on Euripides, Phoenissae, 7 Panathenaiac festival, it would seem, ' 
KoX vDv In iv Tri T^a/ioBp^KV tv^ovaiv <,„ Mj. Cook's hypothesis, that the 
avT^v [scil. 'Apfioylav'i iy -rats io/yrats. sacred marriage of the King and Queen 
According to the Samothracian account, ^^s celebrated on that occasion in 
Cadmus in seeking Europa came to presence of actors who played the parts 
Samothrace, and there, having been of gods and goddesses. In this con- 
initiated into the mysteries, married nexion it may not be amiss to remem- 
Harmonia(DiodorusSiculus, V. 48j-?.). ber that in the eastern gable of tlie 
It is probable, though it cannot be Parthenon the pursuit of the moon by 
proved, that the legend was acted in the sun was mythically represented by 
the mystic rites. the horses of the sun emerging from 

6 See Tke Magic Art and the Evolu- the sea on the one side, and the horses 

Hon of Kings, ii. 133. Mr. A. B. of the moon plunging into it on the 

Cook has suggested that the central other. 




always held at intervals of four, not of eight, years. Yet it too 
would seem to have been based on the octennial cycle. For 
it always fell on a full moon, at intervals of fifty and of forty- 
nine lunar months £.lternately.^ Thus the total number of 
lunar months comprised in two successive Olympiads was 
ninety-nine, which is precisely the number of lunar months 
in the octennial cycle.^ It is possible that, as K. O. Miiller 
conjectured,^ the Olympic games may, like the Pythian, have 
originally been celebrated at intervals of eight instead of four 
years. If that w^as so, analogy would lead us to infer that 
the festival was associated with a mythical marriage of the sun 
and moon. A reminiscence of such a marriage appears to 
survive in the legend that Endymion, the son of the first 
king of Elis, had fifty daughters by the Moon, and that 
he set his sons to run a race for the kingdom at Olympia.* 
For, as scholars have already perceived, Endymion is the 
sunken sun overtaken by the moon below the horizon, and 
his fifty daughters by her are the fifty lunar months of an 
Olympiad or, more strictly speaking, of every alternate 
Olympiad.^ If the Olympic festival always fell, as many 
authorities have maintained, at the first full moon after the 
summer solstice,^ the time would be eminently appropriate 
for a marriage of the luminaries, since both of them might 
then be conceived to be at the prime of their vigour. 

It has been ingeniously argued by Mr. A. B. Cook ' that 
the Olympic victors in the chariot -race were the lineal 
successors of the old rulers, the living embodiments of Zeus, 

1 Schol. on Pindar, Olymp. iii. 35 

2 Compare Aug. Boeckh, on Pindar, 
I.e., Explicationes, p. 138 ; L. Ideler, 
Haiidbuch der mathematischen und 
technischen Chronologie, i. 366 sq.; G. 
F. Unger, " Zeitrechnung der Griechen 
und Rbmer," in Iwan MiiUer's Hand- 
buck der classischen Altertumswissen- 
schaft, i. 605 sg. All these writers 
recognise the octennial cycle at 

3 K. O. yiVi\\t\,DieDorier,'^i\. 483; 
compare id. i. 254 sg. 

* Pausanias, v. i. 4. 

^ Aug. Boeckh, I.e.; A. Schmidt, 
Handbuch der griechischen Chronologie 
(Jena, 1888), pp. 50 sqg. ; K. O. 

Miiller, Die Vorier,'^ i. 438 ; W. H. 
Roscher, Selene und Verwandtes, pp. 
2 sq., 80 sq., loi. 

^ See Aug. Boeckh and L. Ideler, 
II. cc. More recent writers would date 
it on the second full moon after the 
summer solstice, hence in August or 
the last days of July. See G. F. 
Unger, I.e.; E. F. Bischoff, "De fastis 
Graecorum antiquioribus," Leipziger 
Studien zur classischen Philologie, vii. 
(1884) pp. 347 sg.; Aug. Mommsen, 
Uber die Zeit der Olympien (Leipsic, 
1891); and my note on Pausanias, v. 
9. 3 (vol. iii. pp. 488 sg.). 

'■ A. B. Cook, " The European Sky- 
God," Folk-lore.^ xv. (1904) pp. 398- 


whose claims to the kingdom were decided by a race, as in female, 
the legend of Endymion and his sons, and who reigned for a ™riJinaiiy 
period of four, perhaps originally of eight years, after which have repre- 
they had again, like Oenomaus, to stake their right to the zeus'and 
throne on the issue of a chariot-race. Certainly the four- "era or 
horse car in which they raced assimilated them to the sun- and Moon, 
god, who was commonly supposed to drive through the sky ^°<J ''^^^ 
in a similar fashion ; ^ while the crown of sacred olive which divine king 
decked their brows ^ likened them to the great god Zeus and queen 

° ° for four or 

himself, whose glorious image at Olympia wore a similar eight years. 
wreath.^ But if the olive-crowned victor in the men's race 
at Olympia represented Zeus, it becomes probable that J the 
olive-crowned victor in the girls' race, which was held every 
fourth year at Olympia in honour of Hera,^ represented in 
like manner the god's wife ; and that in former days the two 
together acted the part of the god and goddess in that sacred 
marriage of Zeus and Hera which is known to have been 
celebrated in many parts of Greece.® This conclusion is 
confirmed by the legend that the girls' race was instituted 
by Hippodamia in gratitude for her marriage with Pelops ; ^ 
for if Pelops as victor in the chariot-race represented Zeus, 
his bride would naturally play the part of Hera. But under 
the names of Zeus and Hera the pair of Olympic victors 
would seem to have really personated the Sun and Moon, 
who were the true heavenly bridegroom and bride of the 
ancient octennial festival.^ In the decline of ancient civilisa- 
tion the old myth of the marriage of the great luminaries 

1 Rapp, in W. H. Roscher's Lexikon and dramatic parts played by the 
d. griech. und rom. Mythologie, i. 2005 Olympic victors, male and female, as 
sgq. representatives of the Sun and Moon, 

2 Pausanias, V. 15. 3, with my note; and 1 had the pleasure of hearing 
Schol. on Pindar, Ofymp. iii. 60. him expound the theory in a brilliant 

^ Pausanias, V. 11. I. lecture delivered before the Classical 

* Pausanias, v. 16. 2 sgj. Society of Cambridge, 28th February 
^ See The Magic Art and the 191 1. The coincidence of two in- 

Evolution of Kings, vol. ii. p. 143. dependent enquirers in conclusions, 

* Pausanias, v. 16. 4. which can hardly be called obvious, 
' Many years after the theory in the seems to furnish a certain confirmation 

text was printed (for the present volume of their truth. In Mr. Cornford's case 

has been long in the press) I accident- the theory in question forms part of 

ally learned that my friend Mr. F. M. a more elaborate and comprehensive 

Cornford, Fellow and Lecturer of hypothesis as to the origin of the 

Trinity College, Cambridge, had quite Olympic games, concerning which I 

independently arrived at a similar con- must for the present suspend my judg- 

clusion with regard to the mythical ment. 




was revived by the crazy fanatic and libertine, the emperor 
Heliogabalus, who fetched the image of Astarte, regarded as 
the moon-goddess, from Carthage to Rome and wedded it 
to the image of the Syrian sun-god, commanding all men at 
Rome and throughout Italy to celebrate with joy and 
festivity the solemn nuptials of the God of the Sun with the 
Goddess of the Moon.^ 

§ 5. Funeral Games 

But a different and at first sight inconsistent explanation 
of the Olympic festival deserves to be considered. Some of 
the ancients held that all the great games of Greece — the 
Olympic, the Nemean, the Isthmian, and the Pythian — were 
funeral games celebrated in honour of the dead.^ Thus the 
Olympic games were supposed to have been founded in 
honour of Pelops,^ the great legendary hero, who had a 
sacred precinct at Olympia, where he was honoured above 
all the other heroes and received annually the sacrifice of 
a black ram.* Once a year, too, all the lads of Peloponnese 
are said to have lashed themselves on his grave at Olympia, 
till the blood streamed down their backs as a libation to the 
departed hero.^ Similarly at Roman funerals the women 
scratched their faces till they bled for the purpose, as Varro 
tells us, of pleasing the ghosts with the sight of the flowing 
blood.® So, too, among the aborigines of Australia mourners 
sometimes cut and hack themselves and allow the streaming 
blood to drip on the dead body of their kinsman or into the 
grave.'^ Among the eastern islanders of Torres Straits in 
like manner youths who had lately been initiated and girls 
who had attained to puberty used to have the lobes of their 
ears cut as a mourning ceremony, and the flowing blood was 

' Herodian, v. 6. 3-5. 

''■ Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. 
ii. 34, p. 29, ed. Potter. The follow- 
ing account of funeral games is based 
on my note on Pausanias i. 44. 8 (vol. 
ii. pp. S49 -f?-). Compare W. Ridge- 
way, The Origin of Tragedy (Cam- 
bridge, 1910), pp. 32 sqq. 

3 Clement of Alexandria, I.e. 

* Pausanias, v. 13. I sq. 

^ Scholiast on Pindar, Olyinp. i. 146. 

8 Varro, cited by Servius, on Virgil, 
Aen. iii. 67. 

^ F. Bonney, " On some Customs 
of the Aborigines of the River Darling," 
Journal of the Anthropological Institute, 
xiii. (1884) pp. 134 sq. ; Spencer and 
Gillen, Native Tribes of Central Aus- 
tralia, pp. 507, 509 sq. ; (Sir) G. Grey, 
Journals of Two Expeditions of Dis- 
covery in North ■ West and Western 
Australia (London, 1841), ii. 332. 


allowed to drip on the feet of the corpse as a mark of pity 
or sorrow; moreover, young adults of both sexes had patterns 
cut in their flesh with a sharp shell so that the blood fell on 
the dead body.^ The similarity of these savage rites to the 
Greek custom observed at the grave of Pelops suggests that 
the tomb was not a mere cenotaph, but that it contained the 
actual remains of the dead hero, though these have not been 
discovered by the German excavators of Olympia. In like 
manner the Nemean games are said to have been celebrated 
in honour of the dead Opheltes, whose grave was shewn at 
Nemea.^ According to tradition, the Isthmian games were 
instituted in honour of the dead Melicertes, whose body had 
been washed ashore at the Isthmus of Corinth. It is said 
that when this happened a famine fell upon the Corinthians, 
and an oracle declared that the evil would not cease until 
the people paid due obsequies to the remains of the drowned 
Melicertes and honoured him with funeral games. The 
Corinthians complied with the injunction for a short time ; 
but as soon as they omitted to celebrate the games, the 
famine broke out afresh, and the oracle informed them that 
the honours paid to Melicertes must be eternal.^ Lastly, 
the Pythian games are said to have been celebrated in 
honour of the dead dragon or serpent Python.* 

These Greek traditions as to the funeral origin of the The 
great games are strongly confirmed by Greek practice in ^^jj'^'^g''™^^ 
historical times. Thus in the Homeric age funeral games, by Greek 
including chariot-races, foot-races, wrestling, boxing, spear- pJ^^j^"^^' 
throwing, quoit-throwing, and archery, were celebrated in historical 
honour of dead kings and heroes at their barrows.^ In the g^eswere 
fifth century before Christ, when Miltiades, the victor of instituted 
Marathon, died in the Thracian Chersonese, the people h°onour 
offered sacrifices to him as their founder and instituted '° ™any 

1 Reports of the Cambridge Anthro- i. 44. 8 ; Apollodorus, iii. 4. 3 ; 
pological Expedition to Torres Straits, Zenobius, iv. 38 ; Clement of Alex- 
vi. (Cambridge, 1908) pp. 135, 154. andria, I.e.; J. Tzetzes, Scholia on 

2 Hyginus, Fabulae, 74 ; Apollo- Lycophron, 107, 229 ; Scholia on 
dorus, iii. 6. 4; Schol. on Pindar, Euripides, Medea, 1284; Hyginus, 
Pyth., Introduction; Pausanias, ii. 15. Fabulae, 2. 

2 sq. ; Clement of Alexandria, Pro- * Clement of Alexandria, I.e. ; 

trept. ii. 34, p. 29, ed. Potter. Hyginus, Fabulae, 140. 

3 Scholiast on Pindar, Isthm., Intro- ^ Homer, Iliad, xxiii. 255 sqq., 629 
duction, p. 5l4,ed. Boeckh; Pausanias, sqq., 651 sqq. 


famous equestrian and athletic games in his honour, in which no 
Greece citizen of Lampsacus was allowed to contend.-' Near the 
theatre at Sparta there were two graves ; one contained the 
bones of the gallant Leonidas which had been brought back 
from the pass of Thermopylae to rest in Spartan earth; the 
other held the dust of King Pausanias, who commanded the 
Greek armies on the great day when they routed the Persian 
host at Plataea, but who lived to tarnish his laurels and to 
die a traitor's death. Every year speeches were spoken 
over these graves and games were held in which none but 
Spartans might compete.^ Perhaps in the case of Pausanias 
the games were intended rather to avert his anger than 
to do him honour ; for we are told that wizards were fetched 
even from Italy to lay the traitor's unquiet ghost.^ Again, 
when the Spartan general Brasidas, defending Amphipolis 
in Thrace against the Athenians, fell mortally wounded 
before the city and just lived, like Wolfe on the Heights of 
Abraham, to learn that his men were victorious, all the 
allies in arms followed the dead soldier to the grave ; and 
the grateful citizens fenced his tomb about, sacrificed to 
him as a hero, and decreed that his memory should be 
honoured henceforth with games and annual sacrifices.* 
So, too, when Timoleon, the saviour of Syracuse, died in 
the city which he had delivered from tyrants within and 
defended against enemies without, vast multitudes of men 
and women, crowned with garlands and clad in clean 
raiment, attended all that was mortal of their benefactor 
to the funeral pyre, the voices of praise and benedic- 
tion mingling with the sound of lamentations and sobs ; 
and when at last the bier was laid on the pyre a herald 
chosen for his sonorous voice proclaimed that the people 
of Syracuse were burying Timoleon, and that they would 
honour him for all time to come with musical, equestrian, 
and athletic games, because he had put down the tyrants, 
conquered the foreign foe, rebuilt the cities that had been 
laid waste, and restored their free constitutions to the 
Sicilians.^ In dedicating the great Mausoleum at Hali- 

1 Herodotus, vi. 38. dicta, 17. 

2 Pausanias, iii. 14. i. * Thucydides, v. 10 sq. 

^ Plutarch, De sera numinis vin- ^ Plutarch, Timoleon, 39. 


carnassus to the soul of her dead husband Mausolus, his 
widow Artemisia instituted a contest of eloquence in his 
memory, prizes of money and other valuables being offered 
to such as should pronounce the most splendid panegyrics 
on the departed. Isocrates himself is said to have entered 
for the prize but to have been vanquished by his pupil 
Theopompus.^ Alexander the Great prepared to pay honour 
to his dead friend Hephaestion by celebrating athletic and 
musical contests on a greater scale than had ever been 
witnessed before, and for this purpose he actually assembled 
three thousand competitors, who shortly afterwards contended 
at the funeral games of the great conqueror himself^ 

Nor were the Greeks in the habit of instituting games in The , 
honour only of a few distinguished individuals ; they some- ins^ftute/° 
times established them to perpetuate the memory or to appease games in 
the ghosts of large numbers of men who had perished on the on^'^e 
field of battle or been massacred in cold blood. When the numbers 
Carthaginians and Tyrrhenians together had beaten the who had 
Phocaeans in a sea-fight, they landed their prisoners near P^"^''^'^ '" 
Agylla in Etruria and stoned them all to death. After that, massacre. 
whenever the people of Agylla or their oxen or their sheep 
passed the scene of the massacre, they were attacked by a 
strange malady, which distorted their bodies and deprived 
them of the use of their limbs. So they consulted the 
Delphic oracle, and the priestess told them that they must 
offer great sacrifices to the dead Phocaeans and institute 
equestrian and athletic games in their honour,^ no doubt 
to appease the angry ghosts of the murdered men, who 
were supposed to be doing the mischief. At Plataea 
down to the second century of our era might be seen the 
graves of the men who fell in the great battle with the 
Persians. Sacrifices were offered to them every year with 
great solemnity. The chief magistrate of Plataea, clad in 
a purple robe, washed with his own hands the tombstones 
and anointed them with scented oil. He slaughtered a black 
bull over a burning pyre and called upon the dead warriors 
to come and partake of the banquet and the blood. Then 
filling a bowl of wine and pouring a libation he said, " I drink 

1 Aulus Gellius, x. l8. 5 sq. ^ Arrian, vii. 14. 10. 

3 Herodotus, i. 167. 


to the men who died for the freedom of Greece." Moreover, 
games were celebrated every fourth year in honour of these 
heroic dead, the principal prizes being offered for a race in 
armour.^ At Athens funeral games were held in the Academy 
to commemorate the men slain in war who were buried in the 
neighbouring Ceramicus, and sacrifices were offered to them 
at a pit : the games were superintended and the sacrifices 
offered by the Polemarch or minister of war.^ 
Funeral Similar honours have been paid to the spirits of the 

hare^been departed by many other peoples both ancient and modern, 
celebrated Thus in antiquity the Thracians burned or buried their dead, 
0° the°dead ^"^ having raised mounds over their remains they held games 
by other of all kinds on the spot, assigning the principal prizes to 
bothfn victory in single combat.^ At Rome funeral games were 
ancientand celebrated and gladiators fought in honour of distinguished 
times. men who had just died. The games were sometimes held in 
the forum. Thus in the year 216 B.C., when Marcus Aemilius 
Lepidus died, who had been twice consul, his three sons 
celebrated funeral games in the forum for three days, and 
two-and-twenty pairs of gladiators fought on the occasion.* 
Again, in the year 200 B.C. funeral games were held for four 
days in the forum, and five-and-twenty pairs of gladiators 
fought in honour of the deceased M. Valerius Laevinus, the 
expense of the ceremonies being defrayed by the two sons of 
the dead man.® Once more, when the Pontifex Maximus, 
Publicius Licinius Crassus, died at the beginning of the year 
183 B.C., funeral games were celebrated in his honour for 
three days, a hundred and twenty gladiators fought, and the 
ceremonies concluded with a banquet, for which the tables 
were spread in the forum.'' These games and combats were 
doubtless intended to please and soothe the ghost of the 
recently departed, just as we saw that Roman women lacer- 
ated their faces for a similar purpose. Similarly, when the 
Southern Nicobarese dig up the bones of their dead, clean 
them, and bury them again, they hold a feast at which sham- 
fights with quarter-staves take place " to gratify the departed 

1 Plutarch, Aristides, 21 ; Strabo, Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, 58. 
ix. 2. 31, p. 412; Pausanias, ix. 2. ' Herodotus, v. 8. 

5 sq. * Livy, xxiii. 30. 15. 

^ Philostratus, Vit. Sophist, ii. 30 ; ^ Livy, xxxi. 50. 4. 

Heliodorus, Aethiopica, i. 17 ; compare ^ Livy, xxxix. 46. 2 sq. 


spirit." ^ In Futuna, an island of the South Pacific, when a 
death has taken place friends express their grief by cutting 
their faces, breast, and arms with shells, and at the funeral 
festival which follows pairs of boxers commonly engage in 
combats by way of honouring the deceased.^ In Laos, a 
province of Siam, boxers are similarly engaged to bruise 
each other at the festival which takes place when the remains 
of a chief or other important person are cremated. The 
festival lasts three days, but it is while the pyre is actually 
blazing that the combatants are expected to batter each 
other's heads with the utmost vigour.^ Among the Kirghiz 
the anniversary of the death of a rich man is celebrated with 
a great feast and with horse-races, shooting-matches, and 
wrestling-matches. It is said that thousands of sheep and 
hundreds of horses, besides slaves, coats of mail, and a great 
many other objects, are sometimes distributed as prizes 
among the winners.* The Bashkirs, a Tartar people of 
mixed extraction, bury their dead, and always end the 
obsequies with horse-races.^ Among some of the North 
American Indians contests in running, shooting, and so forth 
formed part of the funeral celebration.^ 

The Bedouins of the Sinaitic peninsula observe a great Funeral 
annual festival at the grave of the prophet Salih, and camel- g^™^^ 

° r r > among the 

races are included in the ceremonies. At the end of the races a Bedouins 
procession takes place round the prophet's grave, after which ^h^pe™p]"f 
the sacrificial victims are led to the door of the mortuary of the 
chapel, their ears are cut off, and the doorposts are smeared ^"'^^"^■ 
with their streaming blood.' The custom of holding funeral 

1 Census of India, igoi, vol. iii., von Stenin, " Die Kirgisen des Kreises 
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, by Saissanak im Gebiete von Ssemipala- 
Lieut.-Col. Sir Richard C. Temple tinsk," Globus, Ixix. (1906) p. 228. 
(Calcutta, 1903), p. 209. * T. de Pauly, Description et/ino- 

2 Letter of the missionary Chevron, graphiqtie des feuples de la Russie (St. 
\a. Annates de la Propagation de la Foi, Petersburg, 1862), Feuples ouralo- 
XV. (1843) pp. 40 sq. altdiques, p. 29. 

2 E. Aymonier, Voyage dans le Laos " Charlevoix, Histoire de la Nouvelle 

(Paris, 1895 -1897), ii. 325 sq. ; C. France l(?3.xv-,, 1744), vi. in. 
Bock, Temples and Elephants (London, ^ I. Goldziher, Muhammedanische 

1884), p. 262. Studien (Halle a. S., 1888-1890), ii. 

* A. de Levchine, Description des 328 sq. However, Prof. Goldziher be- 

hommes et des steppes des Kirghiz- lieves that the festival is an ancient 

Kazaks ou Kirghiz ■ Kaisaks (Paris, heathen one which has been subse- 

1840), pp. 367 sq. ; H. Vambery, Das quently grafted upon the tradition of 

Tiirkenvolk (Leipsic, 1885), p. 255 ; P. the orthodox prophet Salih. 
PT. Ill H 


games in honour of the dead appears to be common among 
the people of the Caucasus. Thus in Circassia the anniversary 
of the death of a distinguished warrior or chief is celebrated 
for years with horse-races, foot-races, and various kinds of 
martial and athletic exercises, for which prizes are awarded 
to the successful competitors.^ Among the Chewsurs, another 
people of the Caucasus, horse-races are held at the funeral of 
a rich man, and prizes of cattle and sheep are given to the 
winners; poorer folk content themselves with a competition in 
shooting and with more modest prizes. Similar celebrations 
take place on the anniversary of the death.^ In like manner 
shooting-matches form a feature of an annual Festival of All 
Souls, when the spirits of departed Chewsurs are believed to 
revisit their old village. Adults and children alike take part 
in the matches, the adults shooting with guns and the children 
with bows and arrows. The prizes consist of loaves, stock- 
ings, gloves, and so forth.^ Among the Abchases, another 
people of the Caucasus, two years after a death a memorial 
feast is held in honour of the deceased, at which animals 
are killed and measures taken to appease the soul of the 
departed. For they believe that if the ghost is discontented 
he can injure them and their property. The horse of the 
deceased figures prominently at the festival. After the guests 
have feasted at a long table spread in the open air, the young 
men perform evolutions on horseback which are said to recall 
the tournaments of the Middle Ages, and children of eight 
or nine years of age ride races on horseback.* 
Games Thus it appears that many different peoples have been 

hdd'fn'^'^"^ in the habit of holding games, including horse-races, in honour 
honour of the dead ; and as the ancient Greeks unquestionably did 
famouT ^° within historical times for men whose existence is as little 
man might open to question as that of Wellington and Napoleon, we 
assume the cannot dismiss as improbable the tradition that the Olympic 

1 J. Potocki, Voyage dans les steps fiir allgemeine Erdkunde, Neue Folge, 
d Astrakhan et du Caucase (Paris, ii. (1857) p. 77. 

1829), i. 27s sq.; Edmund Spencer, , „ „ , ,,t, v ••• 

Travels in Circassia, Krim Tartary, ^- "■ ?^^"' ^f^'^'^. ^nschau- 

etc. (London, 1836) ii. 399- p^" "°^, der 

2 G. Radde, Die Chews'uren und Chewsuren. Globus, Ixxvi. (1899) pp. 
ihr Land (Cassel, 1878), pp. 95 sq. ; "' 

Prince Eristow, "Die Pschawen und * N. v. Seidlitz, "Die Abchasen," 

Chewsurier im Kaukasus," Zeitschrift Globus, Ixvi. (1S94) pp. 42 sq. 


and perhaps other great Greek games were instituted to character 
commemorate real men who once lived, died, and were buried ^J^ ^'^^^' 
on the spot where the festivals were afterwards held. When 
the person so commemorated had been great and powerful 
in his lifetime, his ghost would be deemed great and powerful 
after death, and the games celebrated in his honour might 
naturally attract crowds of spectators. The need of pro- 
viding food and accommodation for the multitude which 
assembled on these occasions would in turn draw numbers 
of hucksters and merchants to the spot, and thus what in 
its origin had been a solemn religious ceremony might 
gradually assume more and more the character of a fair, 
that is, of a concourse of people brought together mainly 
for purposes of trade and amusement. This theory might 
account for the origin not only of the Olympic and other 
Greek games, but also for that of the great fairs or public 
assemblies of ancient Ireland which have been compared, not 
without reason, to the Greek games. Indeed the two most The 
famous of these Irish festivals, in which horse-races played a p'.^^* '"* 
prominent part, are actually said to have been instituted in TaiUtin 
honour of the dead. Most celebrated of all was the fair of q^^^^ 
Tailltiu or Tailltin, held at a place in the county of Meath in which 
which is now called Teltown on the Blackwater, midway p°ayedr'^^ 
between Navan and Kells. The festival lasted for a fortnight prominent 
before Lammas (the first of August) and a fortnight after it. f^^^' ^^^ 
Amons; the manly sports and contests which formed a leading have been 

,,,., ,,,, ..,, T, instituted 

feature of the fair horse-races held the principal place. But in honour 
trade was not neglected, and among the wares brought to °f *^ 
market were marriageable women, who, according to a 
tradition which survived into the nineteenth century, were 
bought and sold as wives for one year. The very spot where 
the marriages took place is still pointed out by the peasantry ; 
they call it " Marriage Hollow." Multitudes flocked to the fair 
not only from all parts of Ireland, but even from Scotland ; 
it is officially recorded that in the year 1 169 A.D. the horses 
and chariots alone, exclusive of the people on foot, extended 
in a continuous line for more than six English miles, from 
Tailltin to Mullach-Aiti, now the Hill of Lloyd near Kells. 
The Irish historians relate that the fair of Tailltin was 
instituted by Lug in honour of his foster-mother Tailltiu, 


whom he buried under a great sepulchral mound on the 
spot, ordering that a commemorative festival with games and 
sports should be celebrated there annually for ever.'^ The 
other great fair of ancient Ireland was held only once in 
three years at Carman, now called Wexford, in Leinster. It 
began on Lammas Day (the first of August) and lasted six 
days. A horse-race took place on each day of the festival. 
In different parts of the green there were separate markets 
for victuals, for cattle and horses, and for gold and precious 
stuffs of the merchants. Harpers harped and pipers piped 
for the entertainment of the crowds, and in other parts of 
the fair bards recited in the ears of rapt listeners old 
romantic tales of forays and cattle-raids, of battles and 
murders, of love and courtship and marriage. Prizes were 
awarded to the best performers in every art. In the Book 
of Ballymote the fair of Carman or Garman is said to have 
been founded in accordance with the dying wish of a chief 
named Garman, who was buried on the spot, after begging 
that a fair of mourning {aenach n-guba) should be instituted 
for him and should bear his name for ever. " It was con- 
sidered an institution of great importance, and among the 
blessings promised to the men of Leinster from holding it 
and duly celebrating the established games, were plenty of 
corn, fruit and milk, abundance of fish in their lakes and 
rivers, domestic prosperity, and immunity from the yoke of 
any other province. On the other hand, the evils to follow 
from the neglect of this institution were to be failure and 
early greyness on them and their kings." ^ 

Nor were these two great fairs the only ancient Irish 
festivals of the sort which are reported to have been founded 
in honour of the dead. The annual fair at Emain is said to 
have been established to lament the death of Queen Macha 

' (Sir) John Rhys, Celtic Heathendom of games, athletic exercises, sports, and 

(London, 1888), pp. 409 sq. ; H. pastimes of all kinds" (P. W. Joyce, 

d'Arbois de Jubainville, Cours de lit- op. cit. ii. 438). The Irish name is 

tirature celtique, vii. (Paris, 1895) pp. Tailltiu, genitive Taillten, accusative 

309 sqq. ; P. W. Joyce, Social History and dative Tailltitt (Sir J. Rhys, of. 

of Ancient Ireland {LonAoa, 1903), ii. cit. p. 409 note ^). 
438 jj'y. " The oe«ac/z or fair was an ^ (Sir) John Rhys, Celtic Heathen- 

assembly of the people of every grade dom, p. 411 ; H. d'Arbois de Jubain- 

without distinction ; it was the most ville, Cours de littirature celtique, vii. 

common kind of large public meeting, 313 sqq. ; P. W. Joyce, Social History 

and its main object was the celebration 0/ Ancient Ireland, ii. 434 j-jr., 441 sqq. 


of the Golden Hair, who had her palace on the spot.^ In originated 
short " most of the great meetings, by whatever name known, games"''' 
had their origin in funeral games. Tara, Tailltenn, Tlachtga, 
Ushnagh, Cruachan, Emain Macha and other less prominent 
meeting-places, are well known as ancient pagan cemeteries, 
in all of which many illustrious semi-historical personages 
were interred : and many sepulchral monuments remain in 
them to this day." ^ " There was a notion that Carman 
was a cemetery, that there kings and queens had been 
buried, and that the games and horse-races, which formed 
the principal attraction of the fair, had been instituted in 
honour of the dead folk on whose graves the feet of the 
assembled multitude were treading. The same view is taken 
of the fairs of Tailltiu and Cruachan : Tailltiu and Cruachan 
were cemeteries before they served periodically as places of 
assembly for business and pleasure." ^ The tombs of the 
first kings of Ulster were at Tailltin.* 

If we ask whether the tradition as to the funeral origin The 
of these great Irish fairs is true or false, it is important to f^rs'were 
observe the date at which they were commonly celebrated, held on 
The date was the first of August, or Lugnasad, that is, the August ° 
nasad or games of Lug, as the day is still called in every part (Lammas), 
of Ireland.^ This was the date of the great fair of Cruachan ® seelns to 
as well as of Tailltin and Carman. Now the first of August ^^^^ ^i^™ 
is our Lammas Day, a name derived from the Anglo-Saxon harvest 
hlafmaesse, that is, " Loaf-mass " or " Bread-mass," and the f^''™^ .°f 

r r , 1 ■ ■ r firSt-frmtS. 

name marks the day as a mass or feast of thanksgivmg for 
the first-fruits of the corn-harvest, which in England and 
Ireland usually ripen about that time. The feast " seems 
to have been observed with bread of new wheat, and there- 
fore in some parts of England, and even in some near Oxford, 
the tenants are bound to bring in wheat of that year to their 
lord, on or before the first of August." '^ But if the festival 
of the first of August was in its origin an offering of the 

1 P. W. Joyce, oJ>. cit. ii. 435. * P. W. Joyce, op. cit. ii. 389, 439. 

^ P. W. Joyce, op. cit. ii. 434. ^ (Sir) J. Rhys, Celtic Heathendom, 

Compare (Sir) J. Rhys, Celtic Heathen- p. 410. 
dom, p. 411. ' (Sir) J. Rhys, Celtic Heathendom, 

3 H. d'Arbois de Jubainville, Cours pp. 411 sq., quoting the substance of 

de littirature celtique, vii. 313. a note by Thos. Hearne, in his edition 

^ H. d'Arbois de Jubainville, op. of Robert of Gloucester's Chronicles 

cit. vii. 310. (Oxford, 1724), p. 679. As to the 


first-fruits of the corn-harvest, we can easily understand the 
great importance which the ancient Irish attached to it, and 
why they should have thought that its observance ensured a 
plentiful crop of corn as well as abundance of fruit and milk 
and fish, whereas the neglect of the festival would entail the 
failure of these things and cause the hair of their kings to 
turn prematurely grey.^ For it is a widespread custom 
among primitive agricultural peoples to offer the first-fruits 
of the harvest to divine beings, whether gods or spirits, 
before any person may eat of the new crops,^ and wherever 
such customs are observed we may assume that an omission 
to offer the first-fruits must be supposed to endanger the 
crops and the general prosperity of the community, by 
exciting the wrath of the gods or spirits, who conceive 
themselves to be robbed of their dues. Now among the 
divine beings who are thus propitiated the souls of dead 
ancestors take in many tribes a prominent or even exclusive 
place, and that these ancestors are not creations of the 
mythical fancy but were once men of flesh and blood is some- 
times demonstrated by the substantial evidence of their skulls, 
to which the offerings are made and in which the spirits are 
supposed to take up their abode for the purpose of partaking 
of the food presented to them. Sometimes the ceremony is 
designated by the expressive name of " feeding the dead." ^ 
If the All this tends to support the traditional explanation 

tos'werV °f "^^ great Irish fairs held at the beginning of August, 
instituted when the first corn is ripe ; for if these festivals were 
ofthedead, indeed celebrated, as they are said to have been, at ceme- 
wecan teries where kings and other famous men were buried, and 
why their if the horse-races and other games, which formed the most 
observance prominent feature of the celebrations, were indeed instituted, 

was sup- 
posed to as they are said to have been, in honour of dead men and 

^lenr f women, we can perfectly understand why the observance 

corn, fruit, of the fcstivals and the games was supposed to ensure a 

fi^sh'' ^""^ plentiful harvest and abundance of fruit and fish, whereas 

the neglect to telebrate them was believed to entail the 

derivation of the word see iV«je/ ^«^/w/2 ' See above, p. 1 00. 

Dictionary {OxioxA, 1888- ) and W. ^ gee The Golden Bough, Second 

'W.SkeaXjEtymologicalDicHonaryofthe Edition, ii. 4S9 i??. 

English Language [OxioxA, iijio), s.v. ' See The Golden Bough, Second 

"Lammas." Edition, ii. 460, 463, 464 sq. 


failure of these things. So long as the spirits of the dead 
men and women, who were buried on the spot, received the 
homage of their descendants in the shape of funeral games 
and perhaps of first-fruits, so long would they bless their 
people with plenty by causing the earth to bring forth 
its fruits, the cows to yield milk, and the waters to swarm 
with fish ; whereas if they deemed themselves slighted and 
neglected, they would avenge their wrongs by cutting off 
the food supply and afflicting the people with dearth and 
other calamities. Among these threatened calamities the 
premature greyness of the kings is specially mentioned, 
and was probably deemed not the least serious ; for we 
have seen that the welfare of the whole people is often 
deemed to be bound up with the physical vigour of the 
king, and that the appearance of grey hairs on his head and 
wrinkles on his face is sometimes viewed with apprehension 
and proves the signal for putting him to death.^ Similarly 
the Abchases of the Caucasus imagine that if they do not 
honour a dead man by horse-races and other festivities, his 
ghost will be angry with them and visit his displeasure on 
their persons and their property.^ In this connexion it is 
significant that the celebration of the Isthmian games at 
Corinth in honour of the dead Melicertes is said to have 
been instituted for the purpose of staying a famine, and that 
the intermission of the games was immediately followed by 
a fresh visitation of the calamity.' Analogy suggests that 
the famine may have been ascribed to the anger of the 
ghost of Melicertes at the neglect of his funeral honours. 

Thus on the whole the theory of the funeral origin of But the 
the great Greek games is supported not only by Greek fj)g°f^jj°'^ 
tradition and Greek custom but by the evidence of parallel origin 
customs observed in many lands. Yet the theory seems Olympic 
hardly adequate to explain all the features in the legends of games does 
the foundation and early history of the Olympic games. ^{J'the^ ^'" 
For if these contests were instituted merely to please and pro- legends 
pitiate the soul of a prince named Pelops who was buried with them. 
on the spot, what are we to make of the tradition that the 
foot-race was founded in order to determine the successor to 

1 See above, pp. 14 sqq., 21, 27, 33, 36 sq. 
2 See above, p. 98. ^ See above, p. 93. 




the kingdom ? ^ or of the similar, though not identical, tradi- 
tion that the kingdom and the hand of the king's daughter 
were awarded as the prize to him who could vanquish the 
king in a chariot race, while death was the penalty inflicted 
on the beaten charioteer?^ Such legends can hardly have 
been pure fictions ; they probably reflect some real custom 
Suggested observed at Olympia. We may perhaps combine them with 
the°origin '^'^ tradition of the funeral origin of the games by supposing 
that victory in the race entitled the winner to reign as a 
divine king, the embodiment of a god, for a term of years, 
whether four or eight years according to the interval between 
successive celebrations of the festival ; that when the term 
had expired the human god must again submit his title to 
the crown to the hazard of a race for the purpose of proving 
that his bodily vigour was unimpaired ; that if he failed to 
do so he lost both his kingdom and his life ; and lastly that 
the spirits of these divine kings, like those of the divine 
kings of the Shilluk, were worshipped with sacrifices at their 
graves and were thought to delight in the spectacle of the 
games which reminded them of the laurels they had them- 
selves won long ago, amid the plaudits of a vast multitude, 
in the sunshine and dust of the race-course, before they 
joined the shadowy company of ghosts in the darkness and 
silence of the tomb. The theory would explain the existence 
of the sacred precinct of Pelops at Olympia, where the black 
rams, the characteristic offerings to the dead,^ were sacrificed 
to the hero, and where the young men lashed themselves till 
the blood dripped from their backs on the ground — a sight 
well-pleasing to the grim bloodthirsty ghost lurking unseen 
below. Perhaps, too, the theory may explain the high 
mound, at some distance from Olympia, which passed for 
the grave of the suitors of Hippodamia, to whose shades 
Pelops is said to have sacrificed as to heroes every year.* 
It is possible that the men buried in this great barrow were 
not, as tradition had it, the suitors who contended in the 

' Pausanias, v. i. 4, v. 8. i. 

2 ApoUodorus, Bibliotheca, pp. 183- 
185 ed. R. Wagner {Epitoma, ii. 3-9) ; 
Diodorus Siculus, iv. 73 ; Hyginus, 
Fabulae, 84 ; Schol. on Pindar, Olymp. 
i. 114 ; Servius on Virgil, Georg. 

iii. 7- See The Magic Art and the 
Evolution of Kings f ii. 299 sq. 

3 Strabo, vi. 3. 9, p. 284 ; K. O. 
Miiller, Aeschylos Eumeniden (Gbttin- 
gen, 1833), p. 144. 

^ Pausanias, vi. 21. 9-11. 


chariot-race for the hand of Hippodamia and being defeated 
were slain by her relentless father ; they may have been men 
who, like Pelops himself, had won the kingdom and a bride 
in the chariot-race, and, after enjoying the regal dignity and 
posing as incarnate deities for a term of years, had been 
finally defeated in the race and put to death. 

Whatever may be thought of these speculations, the great The 
Olympic festival cannot have been, like our Lammas, a °'ympic 

^ ^ games not 

harvest festival : the quadrennial period of the celebration and a Harvest 
the season of the year at which it fell, about halfway between but based 
the corn-reaping of early summer and the vintage of mid- 0° astro- 
autumn, alike exclude the supposition and alike point to considera- 
an astronomical, not an agricultural, basis of the solemnity. t'°°s- 
Accordingly we seem driven to conclude that if the winners, 
male and female, in the Olympic games indeed represented 
divinities, these divinities must have been personifications 
of astronomical, not agricultural, powers ; in short that the 
victors posed as embodiments of the Sun and Moon, then at 
the prime of their radiant power and glory, whose meeting 
in the heavenly bridechamber of the sky after years of 
separation was mimicked and magically promoted by the 
nuptials of their human representatives on earth. 

8 6. The Slaughter of the Dragon 

In the foregoing discussion it has been suggested that wide- 
Delphi, Thebes, Salamis, and Athens were once ruled by^^''^^'^, 
kings who had, in modern language, a serpent or dragon for the 
their crest, and were believed to migrate at death into the o/^a^^'eat 
bodies of the beasts. But these legends of the dragon admit dragon. 
of another and, at first sight at least, discrepant explanation. 
It is difficult to separate them from those similar tales of the 
slaughter of a great dragon which are current in many lands, 
and have commonly been interpreted as nature-myths, in 
other words, as personifications of physical phenomena. Of 
such tales the oldest known versions are the ancient Baby- 
Ionian and the ancient Indian. The Babylonian myth relates J*^^ , . 

' ^ Babylonian 

how in the beginning the mighty god Marduk fought and story of the 
killed the great dragon Tiamat, an embodiment of the^^^^fj°y 
primaeval watery chaos, and how after his victory he created Marduk is 


a myth of the present heaven and earth by splitting the huge carcase of 
1'^^™!^!!?" the monster into halves and setting one of them up to form 

of cosmos o " 

out of the sky, while the other half apparently he used to fashion 
the earth. Thus the story is a myth of creation. In 
language which its authors doubtless understood literally, 
but which more advanced thinkers afterwards interpreted 
figuratively, it describes how confusion was reduced to order, 
how a cosmos emerged from chaos.''^ The account of creation 
given in the first chapter of Genesis, which has been so 
much praised for its simple grandeur and sublimity, is merely 
a rationalised version of the old myth of the fight with the 
dragon,^ a myth which for crudity of thought deserves to 
rank with the quaint fancies of the lowest savages. 
Indian Again, the Indian myth embodied in the hymns of the 

story of Rig-veda tells how the strong and valiant god Indra 

the slaying ^ ° t t i i 

of Vrtra by Conquered a great dragon or serpent named Vrtra, which had 
India. obstructed the waters so that they could not flow. He slew 
the monster with his bolt, and then the pent-up springs 
gushed in rivers to the sea. And what he did once, he 
continues to do. Again and again he renews the conflict ; 
again and again he slays the dragon and releases the im- 
prisoned waters. Prayers are addressed to him that he 
would be pleased to do so in the future. Even priests on 

^ P. Jensen, Die Kosmologie der 27 sqq. The myth is clearly alluded 

Babylonier (Strasburg, 1890), pp. 263 to in several passages of Scripture, 

sqq. ; id., Assyrisch - babylonische where the dragon of the sea is spoken 

Mythen tmd Epen (Berlin, 1 900), pp. of as Rahab or Leviathan. See Isaiah 

3 sqq. ; M. Jastrow, The Religion of li. 9, " Art thou not it that cut Rahab 

Babylonia and Assyria, pp. 407 sqq. ; in pieces, that pierced the dragon ? " : 

L. W. King, Babylonian Religion and id. xxvii. i, "In that day the Lord 

Mythology, pp. 53 sqq. ; H. Zimmern, with his sore and great and strong 

in E. Schrader's Die Keilinschriften sword shall punish leviathan the swift 

unddas Alte Testament (Berlin, 1902), serpent, and leviathan the crooked 

pp. 488 sqq. ; M. J. Lagrange, £tudes serpent ; and he shall slay the dragon 

sur les religions simitiques'^ (Paris, that is in the sea"- Job xxvi. I2, 

1905), pp. 366^-^5'. " He stirreth up the sea with his power, 

and by his understanding he smiteth 

^ P. Jensen, Die Kosmologie der through Rahab" : Psalm Ixxxix. 10, 

Babylonier, ^^. 304-306; H. Gunkel, "Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces 

Schopfung und Chaos in Urzeit und as one that is slain " : Psalm Ixxiv. 1 3 

Endxeit (Gottingen, 1895), pp. 114 sq., "Thou didst divide the sea by 

sqq. ; id. , Genesis iiberseizt und erkldrt thy strength : thou brakest the heads 

(Gottingen, 1 901), pp. 107 sqq. ; En- of the dragons in the waters. Thou 

cyclopaedia Biblica, s.v. "Creation," brakest the heads of leviathan in 

i. coll. 938 sqq. ; S. R. Driver, The pieces." See further H. Gunkel, 

Book of Genesis* (London, 1905), pp. Schopfung und Chaos, pp. 29 sqq. 


earth sometimes associate themselves with Indra in his battles 
with the dragon. The worshipper is said to have placed the 
bolt in the god's hands, and the sacrifice is spoken of as 
having helped the weapon to slay the monster.^ Thus the V 

feat attributed to Indra would seem to be a mythical 
account not so much of creation as of some regularly 
recurring phenomenon. It has been plausibly interpreted The story 
as a description of the bursting of the first storms of rain ^I^ ^ 
and thunder after the torrid heat of an Indian summer.^ At descriptive 
such times all nature, exhausted by the drought, longs for beginning 
coolness and moisture. Day after day men and cattle mayof.*« 
be tormented by the sight of clouds that gather and then season in 
pass away without disburdening themselves of their contents, i""^'^- 
At last the long-drawn struggle between the rival forces 
comes to a crisis. The sky darkens, thunder peals, light- 
ning flashes, and the welcome rain descends in sheets, 
drenching the parched earth and flooding the rivers. Such 
a battle of the elements might well present itself to the 
primitive mind in the guise of a conflict between a malefi- 
cent dragon of drought and a beneficent god of thunder and 
rain. The cloud-dragon has swallowed the waters and keeps 
them shut up in the black coils of his sinuous body ; the god 
cleaves the monster's belly with his thunder-bolt, and the 
imprisoned waters escape, in the form of dripping rain and 
rushing stream. 

In other countries a similar myth might, with appropriate similarly 
variations of detail, express in like manner the passage of j^j^g°*j?j"^g 
one season into another. For example, in more rigorous slaughter 
climates the dragon might stand for the dreary winter and dragon 
the dragon-slayer for the genial summer. The myths of may be 
Apollo and the Python, of St. George and the Dragon have de'^scrip^ 
thus been interpreted as symbolising the victory of summer t'ons of the 
over winter.^ Similarly it has been held with much prob- of Ae^ 
ability that the Babylonian legend of Marduk and Tiamat seasons. 
reflects the annual change which transforms the valley of the 

1 A. A. Macdonell, Vedic Mythology , Mitiheilungen der Anthropologischen 
pp. 58-60, 158 sq. Compare H. Gesellschaft in Wien, xviii. (1888) 
Oldenberg, Die Religion des Veda, pp. 44 sq. 

pp. 134 jyy. ' A. Kuhn, "Wodan," Zeitschrift 

2 See M. Wintemitz, "Der Sarpa- fiir deutsches Alterthum, v. (1845) 
ball, ein altindischer Schlangencult," pp. 484-488. 




The cos- 
cance of 
the Baby- 
mytli may 
have been 
an after- 
the early 
the creation 
of the 
on the 
of the 

Euphrates in spring. During the winter the wide Baby- 
lonian plain, flooded by the heavy rains, looks like a sea, 
for which the Babylonian word is tianitu, tiamat. Then 
comes the spring, when with the growing power of the sun 
the clouds vanish, the waters subside, and dry land and 
vegetation appear once more. On this hypothesis the 
dragon Tiamat represents the clouds, the rain, the floods of 
winter, while Marduk stands for the vernal or summer sun 
which dispels the powers of darkness and moisture.^ 

But if the combat of Marduk and Tiamat was primarily 
a mythical description of the Babylonian spring, it would 
seem that its cosmogonical significance as an account of 
creation must have been an after - thought. The early 
philosophers who meditated on the origin of things may 
have pictured to themselves the creation or evolution of the 
world on the analogy of the great changes which outside 
the tropics pass over the face of nature every y^ar. In these 
changes it is not hard to discern or to imagine a conflict 
between two hostile forces or principles, the principle of con- 
struction or of life and the principle of destruction or of 
death, victory inclining now to the one and now to the other, 
according as winter yields to spring or summer fades into 
autumn. It would be natural enough to suppose that the 
same mighty rivals which still wage war on each other had 
done so from the beginning, and that the formation of the 
universe as it now exists had resulted from the shock of their 
battle. On this theory the creation of the world is repeated 
every spring, and its dissolution is threatened every autumn : 
the one is proclaimed by summer's gay heralds, the opening 
flowers ; the other is whispered by winter's sad harbingers, 
the yellow leaves. Here as elsewhere the old creed is echoed 
by the poet's fancy : — 

" No7i alios prima crescentis origine mundi 
Inluxisse dies aliumve kabuisse tenore7ii 
Crediderim : ver illud erat, ver magnus agebat 

' P. Jensen, Die Kosmologie dei- 
Baiylonier, pp. 315 sq. ; H. Gunkel, 
Schopfung und Chaos,^. 25 ; id. , Genesis 
ilbersetzt und erkldrt, pp. 115 sq. ; 
M. Jastrow, The Religion of Babylonia 
and Assyria, pp. 411 sq., 429 sq., 432 

sq. ; H. Zimmern, in Encyclopaedia 
Biblica, s.v. " Creation," i. coll. 940 
sq. ; id., in E. Schrader's Vie Keil- 
inschriften und das Alte Testament^ 
pp. yjosq., (,00 sq. ; S. R. Driver, The 
Book of Genesis* (London, 1905), p. 28. 


Orbis, et hibernis parcebant flatibus Euri : 
Cum primae lucem pecudes hausere, virmnqiie 
Ferrea progenies duns caput extulit arvis, 
Inmissaeque ferae silvis et sidera caelo." ^ 

Thus the ceremonies which in many lands have been Thus 

performed to hasten the departure of winter or stay the |i^[e.^°d ^g 

flight of summer are in a sense attempts to create the hasten the 

), departure 
of winter 

But if we would set ourselves at the point of view of ^f^ ™ a 

world afresh, to " re-mould it nearer to the Heart's desire." of winter 


the old sages who devised means so feeble to accomplish a attempts to 
purpose so immeasurably vast, we must divest ourselves of "^^p^^' "^'^ 

, .... . ^ , . , creation of 

our modern conceptions of the immensity of the universe and the world. 
of the pettiness and insignificance of man's place in it. We 
must imagine the infinitude of space shrunk to a few miles, 
the infinitude of time contracted to a few generations. To 
the savage the mountains that bound the visible horizon, or 
the sea that stretches away to meet it, is the world's end. 
Beyond these narrow limits his feet have never strayed, and 
even his imagination fails to conceive what lies across the 
waste of waters or the far blue hills. Of the future he 
hardly thinks, and of the past he knows only what has been 
handed down to him by word of mouth from his savage 
forefathers. To suppose that a world thus circumscribed in 
space and time was created by the efforts or the fiat of a 
being like himself imposes no great strain on his credulity ; 
and he may without much difficulty imagine that he himself 
can annually repeat the work of creation by his charms and 
incantations. And once a horde of savages had instituted 
magical ceremonies for the renewal or preservation of all 
things, the force of custom and tradition would tend to 
maintain them in practice long after the old narrow ideas . 
of the universe had been superseded by more adequate con- 
ceptions, and the tribe had expanded into a nation. 

Neither in Babylonia nor in India, indeed, so far as I in Babylon 
am aware, is there any direct evidence that the story of the ^^^^^,^ 
Slaughter of the Dragon was ever acted as a miracle-play or of the 
magical rite for the sake of bringing about those natural of^"^^*"^'' 
events which it describes in figurative language. But analogy dragon 
leads us to conjecture that in both countries the myth may "een acted 

1 Virgil, Georgics, ii. 336-342. 


as a have been recited, if not acted, as an incantation, for the 

reremray purposc I have indicated. At Babylon the recitation may 

to hasten have formed part of the great New Year festival of Marduk, 

of^summer which Under the name of Zagmuk was celebrated with great 

or of the pomp about the vernal equinox.^ In this connexion it may 

sEE^on. not be without significance that one version of the Babylonian 

New-year legend of Creation has been found inscribed on a tablet, of 

Zagmuk°at which the reverse exhibits an incantation intended to be 

Babylon, recited for the purification of the temple of E-zida in 

Borsippa.^ Now E-zida was the temple of Nabu or Nebo, 

a god closely associated, if not originally identical, with 

Marduk ; indeed Hammurabi, the great king of Babylon, 

dedicated the temple in question to Marduk and not to 

Nabu.^ It seems not improbable, therefore, that the creation 

legend, in which Marduk played so important a part, was 

recited as an incantation at the purification of the temple 

E-zida. The ceremony perhaps took place at the Zagmuk 

festival, when the image of Nabu was solemnly brought in 

procession from his temple in Borsippa to the great temple 

of Marduk in Babylon.* Moreover, it was believed that at 

this great festival the fates were determined by Marduk or 

Nabu for the ensuing year.^ Now, the creation myth 

relates how, after he had slain the dragon, Marduk wrested 

the tablets of destiny from Ningu, the paramour of Tiamat, 

sealed them with a seal, and laid them on his breast.^ We 

may conjecture that the dramatic representation of this 

^ P. Jensen, Die Kosmologie der inschriften und das Alte l^estament,^ 

Babylonier, pp. ^\ sqq.; M. Jastrow, p. 399; M. Jastrow, Die Religion 

The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, Babyloniens und Assyriens, i (Giessen, 

pp. 677 sqq.; H. Zimmern, in E. 1905) pp. W] sqq. 

Schx^i^i's. Die Keilinschriftenund das 4 p_ -r^^^^^^ „p „v. pp. 85 sqq.; 

Alte Testament? pp. 371, 384 note \ jj. Jastrow, The Religion of Babylonia 

402, 427, SIS/??-; R- F. Harper, and Assyria, ^.(,^^■,Vi.T^mm^xT,, op. 

Babylonian a,id Assyrian Literature „-^_ ^ jl T_ Lagrange, op. cit. 

(New York, 1901), pp. 136/?., 137, „. ^^g.^ ^ ' "' ^ t- • ^ 

140, 149; M.J. Lagrange, Etudes stir 

les religions simitiques^ {V&ns, l^os), ^- Jensen, op. cit. ^. 87; M. 

pp z^c, sqq. l^sX'co'fi , The Religion of Babylonia and 

2 L. W. King, Babylonian Religion Assyria, p. 681 ; H. Zimmern, op. cit. 

and Mythology, pp. 88 sqq. PP.- 402, 415 ; R. F. Harper, op. cit. 

^ See C. P. Tiele, Geschiedenis van P- '3°- 
den Godsdienst in de Oudheid, i. * P. Jensen, Assyrisch-babylonische 

(Amsterdam, 1903) pp. 159 sq.; Mythen und Epen, p. 29; L. W. 

L. W. King, op. cit. p. 21 ; H. Zim- YA-ag, Babylonian Religion and Mytho- 

mern, in E. Schrader's Die Keil- logy, p. 74. 


incident formed part of the annual determination of the 
fates at Zagmuk. In short, it seems probable that the whole 
myth of creation was annually recited and acted at this 
great spring festival as a charm to dispel the storms and 
floods of winter, and to hasten the coming of summer.^ 

Wherever sacred dramas of this sort were acted as part played 
magical rites for the regulation of the seasons, it would be ^^ *? 
natural that the chief part should be played by the king, at drama 
first in his character of head magician, and afterwards as sia*\ter 
representative and embodiment of the beneficent god who of the 
vanquishes the powers of evil. If, therefore, the myth of the '^''^son. 
Slaughter of the Dragon was ever acted with this intention, 
the king would appropriately figure in the play as the 
victorious champion, while the defeated monster would be 
represented by an actor of inferior rank. But it is possible 
that under certain circumstances the distribution of parts in 
the drama might be somewhat different. Where the tenure 
of the regal office was limited to a fixed time, at the end of 
which the king was inexorably put to death, the fatal part 
of the dragon might be assigned to the monarch as the 
representative of the old order, the old year, or the old cycle 
which was passing away, while the part of the victorious 
god or hero might be supported by his successor and 

An hypothesis of this latter sort would to a certain Suggested 
extent reconcile the two apparently discrepant interpreta- j^'^°°f''t^" 
tions of the myth which have been discussed in the preceding totemic 
pages, and which for the sake of distinction may be called ^sm*^ 
the totemic and the cosmological interpretations respectively, logical 
The serpent or dragon might be the sacred animal or totem l^oronhe 
of the royal house at the same time that it stood mythically Slaughter 
for certain cosmological phenomena, whether moisture or Dragon, 
drought, cold or heat, winter or summer. In like manner 
any other species of animal which served as the totem of 
the royal family might simultaneously possess a cosmological 
significance as the symbol of an elemental power. Thus at 
Cnossus, as we have seen reason to think, the bull was at 

1 This appears to be substantially Encyclopaedia Biblica,s.v."C'ifaX\on" 
the view of H. Zimmern (pp. cit. p. i. coll. 941 note'). 
501) and of Karppe (referred to in 


once the king's crest and an emblem of the sun. Similarly 
in Egypt the hawk was the symbol both of the sun and 
of the king. The oldest royal capital known to us was 
Hieraconpolis or Hawk-town, and the first Egyptian king 
of whom we hear had for his only royal title the name of 
hawk.^ At the same time the hawk was with the Egyptians 
an emblem of the sun.^ Hawks were kept in the sun-god's 
temple, and the deity himself was commonly represented in 
art as a man with a hawk's head and the disc of the sun 
above it^ However, I am fully sensible of the slipperiness 
and uncertainty of the ground I am treading, and it is 
with great diffidence that I submit these speculations to the 
judgment of my readers. The subject of ancient mythology 
is involved in dense mists which it is not always possible to 
penetrate and illumine even with the lamp of the Comparative 
Method. Demonstration in such ^matters is rarely, if ever, 
attainable ; the utmost that a candid' lenquirer can claim for 
his conclusions is a reasonable degree of probability. Future 
researches may clear up the obscurity which still rests on 
the myth of the Slaughter of the Dragon, and may thereby 
ascertain what measure of truth, if any, there is in the 
suggested interpretations. 

S 7. Triennial Tenure of the Kingship 

In the province of Lagos, which forms part of Southern 
Nigeria, the Ijebu tribe of the Yoruba race is divided into 
two branches, which are known respectively as the Ijebu 
Ode and the Ijebu Remon. The Ode branch of the tribe 
is ruled by a chief who bears the title of Awujale and is 
surrounded by a great deal of mystery. Down to recent 
times his face might not be seen even by his own subjects, 
and if circumstances obliged him to communicate with them 
he did so through a screen which hid him from view. The 
other or Remon branch of the Ijebu tribe is governed by 

a chief, who ranks below the Awujale. Mr. John Parkinson 


1 A. Moret, Du caradire religieux 7. p. 671, ed. Potter. 
de .la royauti Pharaonique (Paris, 
1902), pp. 18 sqq., 33 sqq. ' A. Erman, Die dgyptische Religion 

^ Clement of Alexandria, Strom, v. (Berlin, 1905), pp. 10, 25. 


was informed that in former times this subordinate chief 
used to be killed with ceremony after a rule of three years. 
As the country is now under British protection the custom 
of putting the chief to death at the end of a three years' 
reign has long been abolished, and Mr. Parkinson was 
unable to ascertain any particulars on the subject.^ 

§ 8. Annual Tenure of the Kingship 

At Babylon, within historical times, the tenure of the Evidence 
kingly office was in practice lifelong, yet in theory it would °^J^^^ 
seem to have been merely annual. For every year at the tenure of 
festival of Zagmuk the king had to renew his power by ^^ ^t^ 
seizing the hands of the image of Marduk in his great Babylon. 
temple of Esagil at Babylon. Even when Babylon passed 
under the power of Assyria, the monarchs of that country 
were expected to legalise their claim to the throne every 
year by coming to Babylon and performing the ancient 
ceremony at the New-year festival, and some of them found 
the obligation so burdensome that rather than discharge it 
they renounced the title of king altogether and contented 
themselves with the humbler one of Governor.^ Further, it Further, it 
would appear that in remote times, though not within the ^°^ ^,^^^ 
historical period, the kings of Babylon or their barbarous in very 
predecessors forfeited not merely their crown but their life t^e icin^^^ 
at the end of a year's tenure of office. At least this is the °f Babylon 
conclusion to which the following evidence seems to point, death at 
According to the historian Berosus, who as a Babylonian priest *® ^'^^ °^ 
spoke with ample knowledge, there was annually celebrated reign, 
in Babylon a festival called the Sacaea. It began on the The mock 
sixteenth day of the month Lous, and lasted for five days. (je°fh^at '° 
During these five days masters and servants changed places, the festival 
the servants giving orders and the masters obeying them. A sacaea was 

1 John Parkinson (late Principal Africa (London, 1894), p. 170. 
of the Mineral Survey of Southern ^ M. Jastrow, The Religion of 

Nigeria), "Southern Nigeria, the Babylonia and Assyria, p. 680; H. 

Lagos Province," The Empire Review, Zimmern, in E. Schrader's Die Keil- 

vol. XV. May igo8, pp. 290 sq. The inschnften U7id das Alte Testament,^ 

account in the text of the mystery sur- pp. 374. JIJ 5 C.Brockelmann, "Wesen 

rounding the Awujale is taken from und Ursprung des Eponymats in 

A. B. Ellis, The Yoruba- speaking Assynen," Zeitschrifl fur Assyriologie, 

Peoples of the Slave Coast of West xvi. (1902) pp. 391 sq., 396 sq. 

PT. Ill I 


probably a prisoner condemned to death was dressed in the king's 
fOT thTreaJ ""obes, seated on the king's throne, allowed to issue whatever 
king. commands he pleased, to eat, drink, and enjoy himself, and 

to lie with the king's concubines. But at the end of the 
five days he was stripped of his royal robes, scourged, and 
hanged or impaled. During his brief term of office he bore 
the title of Zoganes.^ This custom might perhaps have been 
explained as merely a grim jest perpetrated in a season of 
jollity at the expense of an unhappy criminal. But one 
circumstance — the leave given to the mock king to enjoy 
the king's concubines — is decisive against this interpretation. 
Considering the jealous seclusion of an oriental despot's 
harem we may be quite certain that permission to invade it 
would never have been granted by the despot, least of all to a 
condemned criminal, except for the very gravest cause. This 
cause could hardly be other than that the condemned man 
was about to die in the king's stead, and that to make the 
substitution perfect it was necessary he should enjoy the full 
rights of royalty during his brief reign. There is nothing 
surprising in this substitution. The rule that the king must 
be put to death either on the appearance of any symptom 
of bodily decay or at the end of a fixed period is certainly 
one which, sooner or later, the kings would seek to abolish or 
modify. We have seen that in Ethiopia, Sofala, and Eyeo the 

' Athenaeus, xiv. 44, p. 639 c ; Dio Chrysostom iKfiimaav should strictly 

Chrysostom, Or. iv. pp. 69 sq. (vol. i. mean "hanged," but the verb v^as 

p. 76, ed. I^. Dindorf). Dio Chryso- applied by the Greeks to the Roman 

stom does not mention his authority, punishment of crucifixion (Plutarch, 

but it was probably either Berosus or Caesar, 2). It may have been ex- 

Ctesias. The execution of the mock tended to include impalement, which 

king is not noticed in the passage of was often inflicted by the Assyrians, as 

Berosus cited by Athenaeus, probably we may see by the representations of 

because the mention of it was not it on the Assyrian monuments in the 

germane to Athenaeus's purpose, which British Museum. See also R. F. 

was simply to give a list of festivals at Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian 

which masters waited on their servants. Literature, p. 41, with the plate facing 

A passage of Macrobius {Saturn, iii. p. 54. The proper word for impale- 

7. 6). which has sometimes been inter- ment in Greek is draa-KoXoiriteir (Hero- 

preted as referring to this Babylonian dolus, iv. 202). Hanging was also an 

custom (F. Liebrecht, in Philologus, Oriental as well as Roman mode of 

xxii. 710 ; J. J. Bachofen, Die Sage von punishment. The Hebrew word for it 

Tanaquil, p. 52, note ^^) has in fact ('i^p) seems unambiguous. See Esther, 

nothing to do with it. SeeA. B.Cook, v. 14, vii. 9 sq.; Deuteronomy, xxi. 

in Classical Review, xvii. (1903) p. 22 sq.; Joshua, viii. 29, a. 26; Livy, 

412; id. in Folk-lore, xv. (1904) pp. i. 26. 6. 
304, 384. In the passage of Dio 


rule was boldly set aside by enlightened monarchs ; and that 
in Calicut the old custom of killing the king at the end of 
twelve years was changed into a permission granted to any 
one at the end of the twelve years' period to attack the 
king, and, in the event of killing him, to reign in his stead ; 
though, as the king took care at these times to be surrounded 
by his guards, the permission was little more than a form. 
Another way of modifying the stern old rule is seen in the 
Babylonian custom just described. When the time drew 
near for the king to be put to death (in Babylon this 
appears to have been at the end of a single year's reign) he 
abdicated for a few days, during which a temporary king 
reigned and suffered in his stead. At first the temporary 
king may have been an innocent person, possibly a member 
of the king's own family ; but with the growth of civilisation 
the sacrifice of an innocent person would be revolting to the 
public sentiment, and accordingly a condemned criminal 
would be invested with the brief and fatal sovereignty. In 
the sequel we shall find other examples of a dying criminal 
representing a dying god. For we must not forget that, as 
the case of the Shilluk kings clearly shews,^ the king is slain 
in his character of a god or a demigod, his death and resur- 
rection, as the only means of perpetuating the divine life 
unimpaired, being deemed necessary for the salvation of his 
people and the world. 

If at Babylon before the dawn of history the king himself The 
used to be slain at the festival of the Sacaea, it is natural to the sac^a 
suppose that the Sacaea was no other than Zagmuk or was 
Zakmuk, the great New-year festival at which down to fdentlcai 
historical times the king's power had to be formally renewed with 
by a religious ceremony in the temple of Marduk. The 
theory of the identity of the festivals is indeed strongly 
supported by many considerations and has been accepted by 
some eminent scholars,^ but it has to encounter a serious 
chronological difficulty, since Zagmuk fell about the equinox 

1 See above, pp. 21, 26 sqq. H. Winckler, Altorientalische For- 

schungen, Zweite Reihe, Bd. ii. p. 345 ; 

2 Bruno Meissner, "Zur Entste- C. Brockelmann, "Wesen und Ur- 
bungsgeschichte des Purimfestes," Zeit- sprung des Eponymats in Assyrien," 
schrifi der deutschen morgenldndischen Zeitschrift fiir Assyriologie, xvi. (1902) 
Gesettschaft, 1. (1896) pp. 296-301 ; pp. 391 sq. 


in spring, whereas the Sacaea according to Berosus was held 
on the sixteertth of the month Lous, which was the tenth 
month of the Syro- Macedonian calendar and appears to 
Festival of have nearly coincided with July. The question of the 
S^ia^'" sameness or difference of these festivals will be dis- 
cussed later on} Here it is to be observed that Zagmuk 
was apparently celebrated in Assyria as well as in 
Babylonia. For at the end of his great inscription 
Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, expresses a wish that it may 
be granted to him to muster all his riding-horses and so 
Trace of forth cvcry year at Zagmuk in his palace.^ But whether 
tenureof "^^ power of the Assyrian kings had, like that of the 
the king- Babylonian monarchs, to be annually renewed at this festival, 
Assyria. ^^ *^° "°* know. Howcvcr, a trace of an annual tenure of 
the kingly office in Assyria may perhaps, as Dr. C. Brockel- 
mann thinks,^ be detected in the rule that an Assyrian king 
regularly gave his name only to a single year of his reign, 
while all the other years were named after certain officers 
and provincial governors, about thirty in number, who were 
appointed for this purpose and succeeded each other accord- 
ing to a fixed rotation.* But we know too little about 

1 Meantime I may refer the reader Monatskunde," Abhandlungen der 
to The Golden Bough, Second Edition, histor.-philolog. Classe d. kon. Gesell- 
ii. 254, iii. 151 sqq. As I have there schaft der Wissenschaften zu Gottingen, 
pointed out (iii. 152 sq.) the identifi- ii. (1843-44) PP- 68 sqq., 95, 109, iii 
cation of the months of the Syro- sqq. ; H. It". Clinton, Fasti Hellenici, 
Macedonian calendar (that is, the iii.^ 351 sqq.; article " Calendarium, " 
ascertainment of their astronomical in W. Smith's Dictionary of Greek and 
dates in the solar year) is a matter Roman Antiquities^ i. 339. The dis- 
of some uncertainty, the dates appear- tinction between the dates of the Syro- 
ing to have varied considerably in Macedonian months, which differed in 
different places. The month Lous in different places, and their order, which 
particular is variously said to have was the same in all places (Dius, Apel- 
corresponded in different places to laeus, etc. ), appears to have been over- 
July, August, September, and October. looked by some of my former readers. 
Until we have ascertained beyond the ^ P. Jensen, Die Kosmologie der 
reach of doubt when Lous fell at Babylonier, p. 84 ; C. Brockelmann, 
Babylon in the time of Berosus, it " Wesen und Ursprung des Eponymats 
would be premature to allow much in Assyrien," Zeitschrift fiir Assyrio- 
weight to the seeming discrepancy in logie, xvi. (1902) p. 392. However, 
the dates of Zagmuk and the Sacaea. there is no mention of Zagmuk in Prof. 
On the whole difficult question of the R. F. Harper's translation of the in- 
identification or dating of the months scription {Assyrian and Babylonian 
of the Syro-Macedonian calendar see L. Literature, p. 87). 
Ideler, Handbuch der mathematischen ' C. Brockelmann, op, cit. pp. 389- 
und technischen Chronologie, i. 393 sqq. ; 40 1 . 
K. F. Hermann, " Uber griechische * H. Winckler, Geschichte Baby^ 


the institution of the limu or eponymate to allow us to press 
this argument for an annual tenure of the kingship in Assyria.-' 
A reminiscence of Zagmuk seems to linger in the belief of 
the Yezidis that on New-year's day God sits on his throne 
arranging the decrees for the coming year, assigning to 
dignitaries their various offices, and delivering to them their 
credentials under his signature and seal.^ 

The view that at Babylon the condemned prisoner who Slaves 
wore the royal robes was slain as a substitute for the king f^stgad^ 
may be supported by the practice of West Africa, where at of their 
the funeral of a king slaves used sometimes to be dressed up ^^^^ "' 
as ministers of state and then sacrificed in that character Africa. 
instead of the real ministers, their masters, who purchased 
for a sum of money the privilege of thus dying by proxy. 
Such vicarious sacrifices were witnessed by Catholic mission- 
aries at Porto Novo on the Slave Coast.^ 

A vestige of a practice of putting the king to death at Trace of 
the end of a year's reign appears to have survived in the tuHn^the 
festival called Macahity, which used to be celebrated in kings of 
Hawaii during the last month of the year. About a hundred at^he'end 
years ago a Russian voyager described the custom as of a year's 
follows : " The taboo Macahity is not unlike to our festival 
of Christmas. It continues a whole month, during which 
the people amuse themselves with dances, plays, and sham- 

loniens und Assyriens (Leipsic, 1902), bad, of the year. If the year be good, 

p. 212 ; R. F. Harper, Assyrian and if there be no pestilence and a good 

Babylonian Literature, pp. xxxviii. sq., harvest, he gets presents from all sorts 

206-2 1 5 ; E. Meyer, Geschichte des of people, and I remember hearing that 

Altertums^, i. 2 (Stuttgart and Berlin, in 1898, when the cholera was at its 

1909), pp. 331 sq. It was the second, worst, a deputation came to the Political 

not the first, year of a king's reign Agent and asked him to punish the 

which in later times at all events was name-giver, as itwas obvious that he was 

named after him. For the explanation responsible for the epidemic. In former 

see C. Brockelmann, op. cit. pp. 397 sq. times he would have got into trouble" 

' The eponymate in Assyria and (T. C. Hodson, "The Native Tribes 

elsewhere may have been the subject of Manipur," Journal of the Anthro- 

of superstitions which we do not yet pological Institute, xxxi. 1901, p. 302). 

understand. Perhaps the eponymous ^ C. Brockelmann, "Das Neujahrs- 

magistrate may have been deemed in a fest der Jeztdts," Zeitschrift der 

sense responsible for everything that deutschen morgenldndischen Gesell- 

happened in the year. Thus we are schaft, Iv. (1901) pp. 388-390. 

told that "in Manipur they have a ' Letter of the missionary N. Baudin, 

noteworthy system of keeping count of dated i6th April 1875, in Missions 

the years. Each year is named after Catholiques, vii. (1875) pp. 614-616, 

some man, who — for a consideration — 627 sq. ; Annales de la Propagation de 

undertakes to bear the fortune, good or la Foi, xlviii. (1876) pp. 66-76. 


fights of every kind. The king must open this festival 
wherever he is. On this occasion his majesty dresses himself 
in his richest cloak and helmet, and is paddled in a canoe 
along the shore, followed sometimes by many of his subjects. 
He embarks early, and must finish his excursion at sun-rise. 
The strongest and most expert of the warriors is chosen to 
receive him on his landing. This warrior watches the canoe 
along the beach ; and as soon as the king lands, and has 
thrown off his cloak, he darts his spear at him, from a 
distance of about thirty paces, and the king must either 
catch the spear in his hand, or suffer from it : there is no 
jesting in the business. Having caught it, he carries it 
under his arm, with the sharp end downwards, into the 
temple or heavoo. On his entrance, the assembled multitude 
begin their sham-fights, and immediately the air is obscured 
by clouds of spears, made for the occasion with blunted ends. 
Hamamea [the king] has been frequently advised to abolish 
this ridiculous ceremony, in which he risks his life every 
year ; but to no effect. His answer always is, that he is as 
able to catch a spear as any one on the island is to throw it 
at him. During the Macahity, all punishments are remitted 
throughout the country ; and no person can leave the place 
in which he commences these holidays, let the affair be ever 
so important." ^ 

§ 9. Diurnal Tenure of the Kingship 

The reign That a king should regularly have been put to death 

tite kin* °' ^* '•'^^ close of a year's reign will hardly appear improbable 
limited to when we learn that to this day there is still a kingdom in 
\ty\-^ which the reign and the life of the sovereign are limited to 
Ngoio, ii a single day. In Ngoio, a province of the ancient kingdom 
Conga* ° °f Congo in West Africa, the rule obtains that the chief who 
assumes the cap of sovereignty is always killed on the night 

1 U. Lisiansky, A Voyage Round the brought back to the temple, and that 

World in the Years 1803, 4, J, and 6 thereupon the king was not allowed to 

(London, 18 14), pp. 118 sq. The enter the precinct until he had parried 

same ceremony seems to be more briefly a spear thrown at him by two men. 

described by the French voyager Frey- See L. de Freycinet, Voyage autour die 

cinet, who says that after the principal monde, vol. ii. Premiere Partie (Paris, 

idol hadbeen carried in procession about 1829), pp. 596^5'. 
the island for twenty-three days it was 



after his coronation. The right of succession lies with the 
chief of the Musurongo ; but we need not wonder that he 
does not exercise it, and that the throne stands vacant. 
" No one likes to lose his life for a few hours' glory on 
the Ngoio throne." ^ 

' R. E. Dennett, Notes on the Folk- 
lore of the Fjort, with an introduction 
by Mary H. Kingsley (London, 1898), 
p. xxxii ; id. , At the Back of the Black 
Man! s Mind (London, 1906), p. 120. 
Miss Kingsley in conversation called 

my attention to this particular custom, 
and informed me that she was person- 
ally acquainted with the chief, who 
possesses but declines to exercise the 
right of succession. 



Reminis- If a custom of putting kings to death at the end of a set term 

Tcustom ^^^ prevailed in many lands, it is natural enough that remin- 

of regicide iscences of it should survive in tradition long after the custom 

tales!'' ^^ itselfhas been abolished. \\\ 'Cos. High History of the Holy Graal 

Story how we read how Lancelot roamed through strange lands and 

Lancelot forests Seeking adventures till he came to a fair and wide 

came to a ° i r • i 

city where plain lying without a city that seemed of right great lord- 
the king g^jp^ ^g he rodc across the plain the people came forth from 
perish in the city to welcome him with the sound of flutes and viols 
NewYea?s ^"'^ many instruments of music. When he asked them what 
Day. meant all this joy, " ' Sir,' said they, ' all this joy is made 

along of you, and all these instruments of music are moved 
to joy and sound of gladness for your coming.' ' But where- 
fore for me ? ' saith Lancelot. ' That shall you know well 
betimes,' say they. ' This city began to burn and to melt 
in one of the houses from the very same hour that our king 
was dead, nor might the fire be quenched, nor ever will be 
quenched until such time as we have a king that shall be 
lord of the city and of the honour thereunto belonging, and 
on New Year's Day behoveth him to be crowned in the 
midst of the fire, and then shall the fire be quenched, for 
otherwise may it never be put out nor extinguished. Where- 
fore have we come to meet you to give you the royalty, for 
we have been told that you are a good knight.' ' Lords,' 
saith Lancelot, ' of such a kingdom have I no need, and 
God defend me from it.' ' Sir,' say they, ' you may not be 
defended thereof, for you come into this land at hazard, and 
great grief would it be that so good a land as you see this 


is were burnt and melted away by the default of one single 
man, and the lordship is right great, and this will be right 
great worship to yourself, that on New Year's Day you 
should be crowned in the fire and thus save this city and 
this great people, and thereof shall you have great praise.' 
Much marvelleth Lancelot of this that they say. They come 
round about him on all sides and lead him into the city. 
The ladies and damsels are mounted to the windows of the 
great houses and make great joy, and say the one to another, 
' Look at the new king here that they are leading in. Now 
will he quench the fire on New Year's Day.' ' Lord ! ' say 
the most part, ' what great pity is it of so comely a knight 
that he shall end on such-wise ! ' 'Be still ! ' say the others. 
' Rather should there be great joy that so fair city as is 
this should be saved by his death, for prayer will be made 
throughout all the kingdom for his soul for ever ! ' There- 
with they lead him to the palace with right great joy and 
say that they will crown him. Lancelot found the palace 
all strown with rushes and hung about with curtains of rich 
cloths of silk, and the lords of the city all apparelled to do 
him homage. But he refuseth right stoutly, and saith that 
their king nor their lord will he never be in no such sort. 
Thereupon behold you a dwarf that entereth into the city, 
leading one of the fairest dames that be in any kingdom, 
and asketh whereof this joy and this murmuring may be. 
They tell him they are fain to make the knight king, 
but that he is not minded to allow them, and they tell him 
the whole manner of the fire. The dwarf and the damsel 
are alighted, then they mount up to the palace. The dwarf 
calleth the provosts of the city and the greater lords. 
' Lords,' saith he, ' sith that this knight is not willing to be 
king, I will be so willingly, and I will govern the city at 
your pleasure and do whatsoever you have devised to do.' 
' In faith, sith that the knight refuseth this honour and you 
desire to have it, willingly will we grant it you, and he may 
go his way and his road, for herein do we declare him wholly 
quit.' Therewithal they set the crown on the dwarf's head, 
and Lancelot maketh great joy thereof He taketh his leave, 
and they commend him to God, and so remounteth he on 
his horse and goeth his way through the midst of the city 



Story of 
King Vik- 
of Ujjain 
in India. 

Kings of 
by a demon 
after a 
reign of a 
single day. 

ditya puts 
an end to 
the custom 
by van- 
the demon, 
after which 
he reigns 
as king of 

all armed. The dames and damsels say that he would not 
be king for that he had no mind to die so soon." ^ 

A story of the same sort is told of Ujjain, the ancient 
capital of Malwa in western India, where the renowned 
King Vikramaditya is said to have held his court, gathering 
about him a circle of poets and scholars.^ Tradition has it 
that once on a time an arch-fiend, with a legion of devils at 
his command, took up his abode in Ujjain, the inhabitants 
of which he vexed and devoured. Many had fallen a prey 
to him, and others had abandoned the country to save their 
lives. The once populous city was fast being converted into 
a desert. At last the principal citizens, meeting in council, 
besought the fiend to reduce his rations to one man a day, 
who would be duly delivered up to him in order that the 
rest might enjoy a day's repose. The demon closed with 
the offer, but required that the man whose turn it was to be 
sacrificed should mount the throne and exercise the royal 
power for a single day, all the grandees of the kingdom 
submitting to his commands, and everybody yielding him 
the most absolute obedience. Necessity obliged the citizens 
to accept these hard terms ; their names were entered on a 
list ; every day one of them in his turn ruled from morning 
to night, and was then devoured by the demon. 

Now it happened by great good luck that a caravan of 
merchants from Gujerat halted on the banks of a river not 
far from the city. They were attended by a servant who 
was no other than Vikramaditya. At nightfall the jackals 
began to howl as usual, and one of them said in his own 
tongue, " In two hours a human corpse will shortly float 
down this river, with four rubies of great price at his belt. 

' The High History of the Holy 
Gi-aal, translated from the French by 
Sebastian Evans (London, 1898), i. 
200-203. I have to thank the trans- 
lator, Mr. Sebastian Evans, for his kind- 
ness in indicating this passage to me. 

^ For a discussion of the legends 
virhich gather round Vikramaditya see 
Captain Wilford, " Vicramaditya and 
Salivahana," Asiatic Researches, ix. 
(London, 1809) pp. 117 sjq. ; Chr. 
Lassen, Indische Alterthtimskundey ii.^ 
752 sqq., 794 sqq. ; E. T. Atkinson, 

The Himalayan Districts of the North- 
western Provinces of India, ii. (Allaha- 
bad, 1884), pp. 410 sqq. Vikramaditya 
is commonly supposed to have lived in 
the first century B.C. and to have 
founded the Samvat era, which began 
with 57 B.C., and is now in use all over 
India. But according to Professor H. 
Oldenberg it is now certain that this 
Vikramaditya was a purely legendary 
personage (H. Oldenberg, Die Lite- 
ratur des alten Indien, Stuttgart and 
Berlin, 1903, pp. 215 sq.). 


and a turquois ring on his finger. He who will give me 
that corpse to devour will bear sway over the seven lands." 
Vikramaditya, knowing the language of birds and beasts, 
understood what the jackal said, gave the corpse to the 
beast to devour, and took possession of the ring and the 
rubies. Next day he entered the town, and, traversing the 
streets, observed a troop of horse under arms, forming a 
royal escort, at the door of a potter's house. The grandees 
of the city were there, and with them was the garrison. 
They were in the act of inducing the son of the potter to 
mount an elephant and proceed in state to the palace. But 
strange to say, instead of being pleased at the honour con- 
ferred on their son, the potter and his wife stood on the 
threshold weeping and sobbing most bitterly. Learning 
how things stood, the chivalrous Vikramaditya was touched 
with pity, and offered to accept the fatal sovereignty instead 
of the potter's son, saying that he would either deliver the 
people from the tyranny of the demon or perish in the 
attempt. Accordingly he donned the kingly robes, assumed 
all the badges of sovereignty, and, mounting the elephant, 
rode in great pomp to the palace, where he seated himself 
on the throne, while the dignitaries of the kingdom dis- 
charged their duties in his presence. At night the fiend 
arrived as usual to eat him up. But Vikramaditya was 
more than a match for him, and after a terrific combat the 
fiend capitulated and agreed to quit the city. Next morning 
the people on coming to the palace were astonished to find 
Vikramaditya still alive. They thought he must be no 
common mortal, but some superhuman being, or the 
descendant of a great king. Grateful to him for their 
deliverance they bestowed the kingdom on him, and he 
reigned happily over them.-' 

According to one account, the dreadful being who Yearly 
ravaged Ujjain and devoured a king every day was the blood- sa™fl"gg 
thirsty goddess Kali. When she quitted the city she left formerly 
behind her two sisters, whose quaint images still frown on ^J^^f ^' 

1 " Histoire des rois de I'Hindoustan 1844) pp. 248-257. The story is told 

apr^s les Pandaras, traduite du texte more briefly by Mrs. Postans, Cutch 

hindoustani de Mtr Cher-i Alt Afsos, (London, 1839), pp. 21 sq. Compare 

par M. I'abb^ Bertrand," Journal Chr. Lassen, Indische Alterthums- 

Asiatiqiie, IV^me S^rie, iii. (Paris, kunde, ii.^ 798. 


the spectator from the pillared portal known as Vikrama- 

ditya's Gate at Ujjain. To these her sisters she granted the 

privilege of devouring as many human beings as they pleased 

once every twelve years. That tribute they still exact, 

though the European in his blindness attributes the deaths 

to cholera. But in addition seven girls and five buffaloes 

were to be sacrificed to them every year, and these sacrifices 

used to be offered regularly until the practice was put down 

by the English Government. It is said that the men who 

gave their five-year-old daughteis to be slain received grants 

of land as a reward of their piety. Nowadays only buffaloes 

are killed at the Dagaratha festival, which is held in October 

on the ninth day of the month Agvina. The heads of the 

animals are buried at Vikramaditya's gateway, and those of 

the last year's victims are taken up. The girls who would 

formerly have been sacrificed are now released, but they are 

not allowed to marry, and their fathers still receive grants 

of lands just as if the cruel sacrifice had been consummated.^ 

The persistence of these bloody rites at Ujjain down to 

recent times raises a presumption that the tradition of the 

daily sacrifice of a king in the same city was not purely 


Story of It is worth while to consider another of the stories which 

ofVik- told of King Vikramaditya. His birth is said to have 

ramaditya. been miraculous, for his father was Gandharva-Sena, who 

His father ^^g j.|^g ^^^ ^f ^j^g great god Indra. One day Gandharva- 

harva-Sena Scna had the misfortune to offend his divine father, who 

^^\^"j was so angry that he cursed his son and banished him from 

ass by day => ^ 

and a man heaven to earth, there to remain under the form of an ass 

untU his' ^y ^^y ^^^^ °^ ^ iTi.'a.-n by night until a powerful king should 

ass's skin bum his ass's body, after which Gandharva-Sena would 

when he" ' regain his proper shape and return to the upper world. All 

left his wife this happened according to the divine word. In the shape 

of an ass the son of the god rendered an important service 

to the King of Dhara, and received the hand of the king's 

daughter as his reward. By day he was an ass and ate hay 

' A. V. Williams Jackson, " Notes thank my friend the Rev. Professor J. 

from India, Second ^ex\es," Journal of H. Moulton for referring me to Prof. 

the American Oriental Society, xxiii. Williams Jackson's paper. 
(1902) pp. 308, 316 sq. I have to 


in the stables ; by night he was a man and enjoyed the 
company of the princess his wife. But the king grew tired 
of the taunts of his enemies, as well as of the gibes which 
were levelled by unfeeling wits at his asinine son-in-law. 
So one night, while Gandharva-Sena in human shape was 
with his wife, the king got hold of the ass's body which his 
son-in-law had temporarily quitted, and throwing it on a fire 
burned it to ashes. On the instant Gandharva - Sena 
appeared to him, and thanking him for undoing the spell 
announced that he was about to return to heaven, but that 
his wife was with child by him, and that she would bring 
forth a son who would bear the name of Vikramaditya and 
be endowed with the strength of a thousand elephants. 
The deserted wife was filled with sorrow at his departure, 
and died in giving birth to Vikramaditya.^ 

This story belongs to a widely diffused type of tale stories of 
which in England is known by the name of Beauty and the Beamy and 
Beast. It relates how a beast, doffing its animal shape, the Beast, 
lives as a human husband or wife with a human spouse, howhuman 
Often, though not always, their marriage has a tragic ending, beings are 
The couple live lovingly together for years and children are beasts or 
born to them. But it is a condition of their union that the '° animals 
transformed husband or wife should never be reminded ofporariiy 
his or her old life in furry, feathered, or finny form. At p™™^ 

■' ■' human 

last one unhappy day the fairy spouse finds his or her beast form. 
skin, which had been carefully hidden away by her or his 
loving partner ; or husband and wife quarrel and the real 
man or woman taunts the other with her or his kinship with 
the beasts. The sight of the once familiar skin awakens old 
memories and stirs yearnings that had been long suppressed : 
the cruel words undo the kindness of years. The sometime 
animal resumes its native shape and disappears, and the 
human husband or wife is left lamenting. Sometimes, as in 
the story of Gandharva-Sena, the destruction of the beast's 
skin causes the fairy mate to vanish for ever ; sometimes it 
enables him or her to remain thenceforth in human form 

1 "Histoire des rois de I'Hin- Salivahana," Asiatic Researches, ix. 

doustan," Journal Asiatiqtie, IVeme London, 1809, pp. 148 sq.)^ Mrs. 

Serie, iii. (1844) pp. 239-243. The Postans (Cutch, London, 1839, pp. 

legend is told with modifications by 18-20), and Prof. Williams Jackson 

Captain Wilford (" Vicramaditya and (op. cit. pp. 314 j?.). 



Stories of 
this kind 
are told by- 
savages to 
why they 
from eating 

stories of 
this type. 

with the human wife or husband. Tales of this sort are told 
by savages in many parts of the world, and many of them 
have survived in the folk-lore of civilised peoples. With 
their implied belief that beasts can turn into men or men 
into beasts, they must clearly have originated among savages 
who see nothing incredible in such transformations. 

Now it is to be observed that stories of this sort are told 
by savage tribes to explain why they abstain from eating 
certain creatures. The reason they assign for the abstinence 
is that they themselves are descended from a creature of 
that sort, who was changed for a time into human shape 
and married a human husband or wife. Thus in the rivers 
of Sarawak there is a certain fish called a puttin, which some 
of the Dyaks will on no account eat, saying that if they did 
so they would be eating their relations. Tradition runs 
that a solitary old man went out fishing and caught a 
puttin, which he dragged out of the water and laid down in 
his boat. On turning round he perceived that it had 
changed into a very pretty girl. He thought she would 
make a charming wife for his son, so he took her home and 
brought her up till she was of an age to marry. She con- 
sented to be his son's wife, but cautioned her husband to 
use her well. Some time after marriage, however, he was 
angry and struck her. She screamed and rushed away 
into the water, leaving behind her a beautiful daughter who 
became the mother of the race. Other Dyak tribes tell 
similar stories of their ancestors.^ Thus the Sea Dyaks 
relate how the white-headed hawk married a Sea Dyak 
woman, and how he gave all his daughters in marriage to 
the various omen-birds. Hence if a Sea Dyak kills an 
omen-bird by mistake, he wraps it in a cloth and buries it 
carefully in the earth along with rice, flesh, and money, 
entreating the bird not to be vexed, and to forgive him, 
because it was all an accident.^ Again, a Kalamantan chief 
and all his people refrain from killing and eating deer of a 
certain species {cervulus muntjac), because one of their 

1 The Bishop of Labuan, "Wild "The Relations between Men and 
Tribes of Borneo," Transactions of the Animals in Sarawak," Journal of the 
Ethnological Society of London, New Anthropological Institute, xxxi. (1 90 1) 
Series, ii. {1863) pp. 26 sq. pp. 197 sq. 

2 Ch. Hose and W. McDougall, 


ancestors became a deer of that kind, and as they cannot 
distinguish his incarnation from common deer they spare 
them all.\ In these latter cases the legends explaining the 
kinship of the men with the animals are not given in full ; 
we can only conjecture, therefore, that they conform to the 
type here discussed. 

The Sea Dyaks also tell a story of the same sort to story toW 
explain how they first came to plant rice and to revere the q 'j^g ^ 
omen-birds which play so important a part in Dyak life, explain 
Long, long ago, so runs the tale, when rice was yet unknown, ^ame to^ 
and the Dyaks lived on tapioca, yams, potatoes, and such pi^nt rice 
fruits as they could procure, a handsome young chief named revere the 
Siu went out into the forest with his blow-pipe to shoot omen- 
birds. He wandered without seeing a bird or meeting an ,. , ., 

° ° It describes 

animal till the sun was sinking in the west. Then he came how the 
to a wild fig-tree covered with ripe fruit, which a swarm of g°"JJ,^gj 
birds of all kinds were busy pecking at. Never in his life a woman 
had he seen so many birds together ! It seemed as if all family, and 
the fowls of the forest were gathered in the boughs of that promised 
tree. He killed a great many with the poisoned darts of to hurt or 
his blow-pipe, and putting them in his basket started for ^"^ '°"'='' 
home. But he lost his way in the wood, and the night had 
fallen before he saw the lights and heard the usual sounds 
of a Dyak house. Hiding his blow-pipe and the dead birds 
in the jungle, he went up the ladder into the house, but 
what was his surprise to find it apparently deserted. There 
was no one in the long verandah, and of the people whose 
voices he had heard a minute before not one was to be 
seen. Only in one of the many rooms, dimly lighted, he 
found a beautiful girl, who prepared for him his evening 
meal. Now though Siu did not know it, the house was the 
house of the great Singalang Burong, the Ruler of the Spirit 
World. He could turn himself and his followers into any 
shape. When they went forth against an enemy they took 
the form of birds for the sake of speed, and flew over the 
tall trees, the broad rivers, and even the sea. But in "his 
own house and among his own people Singalang Burong 
appeared as a man. He had eight daughters, and the girl 
who cooked Siu's food for him was the youngest. The 
1 Ch. Hose and W. McDougall, op. cit. p. 193. 


reason why the house was so still and deserted was that the 
people were in mourning for some of their relatives who had 
just been killed, and the men had gone out to take human 
heads in revenge. Siu stayed in the house for a week, and 
then the girl, whose pet name was Bunsu Burong or " the 
youngest of the bird family," agreed to marry him ; but she 
said he must promise never to kill or hurt a bird or even to 
hold one in his hands ; for if he did, she would be his wife 
no more. Siu promised, and together they returned to his 
But one There they lived happily, and in time Siu's wife bore 

broke^is '^^ ^ ^°" whom they named Seragunting. One day when 
word, and the boy had grown wonderfully tall and strong for his years 
wTfe^'ieft ^"'^ ^^^ playing with his fellows, a man brought some birds 
him and which he had caught in a trap. Forgetting the promise he 
the bird- ^^.d made to his wife, Siu asked the man to shew him the 
people. birds, and taking one of them in his hand he stroked it. 
His wife saw it and was sad at heart. She took the pitchers 
and went as though she would fetch water from the well. 
But she never came back. Siu and his son sought her, 
sorrowing, for days. At last after many adventures they 
came to the house of the boy's grandfather, Singalang 
Burong, the Ruler of the Spirit World. There they found 
the lost wife and mother, and there they stayed for a time. 
But the heart of Siu yearned to his old home. He 
would fain have persuaded his wife to return with him, but 
she would not. So at last he and his son went back alone. 
But before he went he learned from his father-in-law how to 
plant rice, and how to revere the sacred birds and to draw 
omens from them. These birds were named after the sons- 
in-law of the Ruler of the Spirit World and were the 
appointed means whereby he made known his wishes to 
mankind. That is how the Sea Dyaks learned to plant rice 
and to honour the omen-birds.-' 

Stories of the same kind meet us on the west coast of 
Africa. Thus the Tshi-speaking negroes of the Gold Coast 

1 Rev. E. H. Gomes, "Two Sea 12-28; id., Seventeen Years a7nong the 

"Dyak 'L&geTiis," Journal of the Straits Sea Dyaks of Borneo (London, 191 1), 

Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, pp. 278 sqq. 
No. 41 (January 1904, Singapore), pp. 


are divided into a number of great families or clans, mostly stories of 
named after animals or plants, and the members of a clan *^^^^^ 

^ ' sort are 

refrain from eating animals of the species whose name they told by the 
bear. In short, the various animals or plants are the totems sp^gaking 
of their respective clans. Now some of the more recent of negroes of 
these clans possess traditions of their origin, and in such co^st to 
cases the founder of the family, from whom the name is explain 

wliv thcv 

derived, is always represented as having been a beast, bird, do not eat 
or fish, which possessed the power of assuming human shape *^"" . 

'^ . ^ ° ^ totemio 

at will. Thus, for instance, at the town of Chama there resides animals. 
a family or clan who take their name from the sar/u or 
horse-mackerel, which they may not eat because they are 
descended from a horse-mackerel. One day, so runs the 
story, a native of Chama who had lost his wife was 
walking sadly on the beach, when he met a beautiful young 
woman whom he persuaded to be his wife. She consented, 
but told him that her home lay in the sea, that her people 
were fishes, and that she herself was a fish, and she made 
him swear that he would never allude to her old home and 
kinsfolk. All went well for a time till her husband took 
a second wife, who quarrelled with the first wife and taunted 
her with being a fish. That grieved her so that she bade 
her husband good-bye and plunged into the sea with her 
youngest child in her arms. But she left her two elder 
children behind, and from them are descended the Horse- 
mackerel people of Chama. A similar story is told of 
another family in the town of Appam. Their ancestor 
caught a fine fish of the sort called appei, which turned into 
a beautiful woman and became his wife. But she told him 
that in future neither they nor their descendants might eat 
the appei fish or else they would at once return to the sea. 
The family, duly observing the prohibition, increased and 
multiplied till they occupied the whole country, which was 
named after them Appeim or Appam.^ 

We may surmise that stories of this sort, wherever found, stories of 
had a similar origin ; in other words, that they reflect and ^e^Vprob- 
are intended to explain a real belief in the kinship of certain ably at 
families with certain species of animals. Hence if the name Jf^ ^J'^y^ 

1 A. B. Ellis, TAe Tshi-speaking Peoples of the Gold Coast (London, 1887), 
pp. 204-212. 

PT. Ill K 



the totemic 
belief in 
the kinship 
of certain 
with certain 
species of 

and wife 
had differ- 
ent totems, 
a violation 
of the 
taboos by 
or wife 
might lead 
to the 
of the 

totemism may be used to include all such beliefs and the 
practices based on them, the origin of this type of story may 
be said to be totemic' Now, wherever the totemic clans 
have become exogamous, that is, wherever a man is always 
obliged to marry a woman of a totem different from his own, 
it is obvious that husband and wife will always have to observe 
different totemic taboos, and that a want of respect shewn 
by one of them for the sacred animal or plant of the other 
would tend to domestic jars, which might often lead to the 
permanent separation of the spouses, the offended wife or 
husband returning to her or his native clan of the fish-people, 
the bird-people, or what not. That, I take it, was the origin 
of the sad story of the man or woman happily mated with 
a transformed animal and then parted for ever. Such tales, 
if I am right, were not wholly fictitious. Totemism may 
have broken many loving hearts. But when that ancient 

1 The type of story in question has 
been discussed by Mr. Andrew Lang 
in a well-known essay "Cupid, Psyche, 
and the Sun-Frog," Custom and Myth 
(London, 1884), pp. 64-86. He rightly 
explains all such tales as based on savage 
taboos, but so far as I know he does not 
definitely connect them with totemism. 
For other examples of these tales 
told by savages see W. Lederbogen, 
"Duala Marchen," Mittheilungen des 
Seminars fur Orientaliscke Sprachen zu 
Berlin, v. (1902) Dritte Abtheilung, 
pp. 139-145 (the Duala tribe of 
Cameroons ; in one tale the wife is a 
palm -rat, in the other a mpondo, a. 
hard brown fruit as large as a coco- 
nut) ; R. H. Nassau, Fetichism in West 
Africa (London, 1904), pp. 351-358 
(West Africa ; wife a forest-rat) ; G. 
H. Smith, "Some Betsimisaraka Super- 
stitions," The Antananarivo Annual 
and Madagascar Magazine, No. 10 
(Christmas, 1886), pp. 241 sq. ; R. H. 
Codrington, The Melanesians, pp. 172, 
397 sq. (Melanesia ; wife a bird, hus- 
band an owl) ; A. F. van Spreeuwen- 
berg, "Een blik op Minahassa," 
Tijdschrift voor Nelrland's Indie, 
1846, Erste deel, pp. 25-28 (the 
Bantiks of Celebes; wife a white dove); 
J. H. F. Kohlbrugge, "Die Teng- 
geresen, ein alter Javanischer Volks- 

staam," Bijdragen tot de Taal- Land- en 
Volkenkunde van Nederlandsch-lndie, 
liii. (1901) pp. 97-99 (the Tenggeres 
of Java; wife a bird); J. Fanggidaej, 
" Rottineesche Verhalen," Bijdragen 
tot de Taal- Land- en Volkenkunde van 
Nederlandsch-Indi'i, Iviii. (1905), pp. 
430 - 436 (island of Rotti ; husband 
a crocodile); J. Kubary, "Die 
Religion der Pelauer," in A. Bastian's 
Allerlei aus Volkes- und Menschenkunde 
(Berlin, 1888), i. (sosq. (Pelew Islands ; 
wife a fish) ; A. R. McMahon, The 
Karens of the Golden Chersonese, pp. 
248-250 (Karens of Burma; husband a 
tree-lizard); Landes, "ContesTjames," 
Cochinchine franfaise, excursions et 
reconnaissances, No. 29 (Saigon, 1887), 
pp. 53 sqq. (Chams of Cochin-China ; 
husband a coco-nut) ; A. Certeux and 
E. H. Carnoy, DAlgirie traditionnelle 
(Paris and Algiers, 1884), pp. 87-89 
(Arabs of Algeria ; wife a dove) ; J. G. 
Kohl, Kitschi-Gami (Bremen, 1858), 
i. 140-145 (Ojebway Indians; wife a 
beaver) ; Franz Boas and George Hunt, 
Kwakiutl Texts, ii. 322-330 {The 
Jesup North Pacific Expedition, Memoir 
of the American Museum of Natural 
History) (Kwakiutl Indians ; wife a 
salmon) ; J. R. Swanton, Haida Texts 
and Myths (Bureau of American Eth- 
nology, Bulletin, No. 29, Washington, 




system of society had fallen into disuse, and the ideas on 
which it was based had ceased to be understood, the quaint 
stories of mixed marriages to which it had given birth would 
not be at once forgotten. They would continue to be told, 
no longer indeed as myths explanatory of custom, but merely 
as fairy tales for the amusement of the listeners. The 
barbarous features of the old legends, which now appeared 
too monstrously incredible even for story-tellers, would be 
gradually discarded and replaced by others which fitted in 
better with the changed beliefs of the time. Thus in 
particular the animal husband or animal wife of the story 
might drop the character of a beast to assume that of a 
fairy. This is the stage of decay exhibited by the two 
most famous tales of the class in question, the Greek 
fable of Cupid and Psyche and the Indian story of 
King Pururavas and the nymph Urvasi, though in the 
latter we can still detect hints that the fairy wife was once 
a bird-woman.^ 

This would 
explain the 
of husband 
and wife 
in the type 
of tale here 

1905), pp. 286 sq. (Haida Indians; 
wife a killer-whale^ ; H. Rink, Tales 
and Traditions of the Eskimo, pp. 146 
sq. (Esquimaux ; wife a sea-fowl). The 
Bantik story is told to explain the origin 
of the people; the Tenggeres story is 
told to explain why it is forbidden to 
lift the lid of a basket in which rice is 
being boiled. The other stories re- 
ferred to in this note are apparently told 
as fairy tales only, but we may con- 
jecture that they too were related origin- 
ally to explain a supposed relationship 
of human beings to animals or plants. 
I have already illustrated and explained 
this type of story in Totemism and 
Exogamy, vol. ii. pp. SS, 206, 308, 
565-571. 589, iii. 60-64, 337 sq. 

1 The fable of Cupid and Psyche is 
only preserved in the Latin of Apuleius 
(Metamorph. iv. 28 -vi. 24), but we 
cannot doubt that the original was 
Greek. For the story of Pururavas and 
Urvasi, see The Rigveda, x. 95 {Hymns 
of the Rigveda, translated by R. T. H, 
Griffith, vol. iv. Benares, 1892, pp, 
304 sqq. ) ; Satapatha Brahmana. 
translated by J. Eggeling, part v. pp. 
68-74 [Sacred Books of the East, vol, 
xliv.) ; and the references in The 

Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings, 
vol. ii. p. 250, note *. A clear trace of 
the bird-nature of Urvasi occurs in the 
Satapatha Brahmana (Part v. p. 70 of 
J. Eggeling's translation), where the 
sorrowing husband finds his lost wife 
among nymphs who are swimming 
about in the shape of swans or ducks 
on a lotus-covered lake. This has 
been already pointed out by Th. 
Benfey (Pantschatantra, i. 264). In 
English the type of tale is known as 
" Beauty and the Beast," which ought 
to include the cases in which the wife, 
as well as those in which the husband, 
appears as an animal. On stories of 
this sort, especially in the folklore of 
civilised peoples, see Th. Benfey, 
Pantschatantra, i. 2^^ sqq.; W. R. S. 
Ralston, Introduction to F. A. von 
Schiefher's Tibetan Tales, pp. xxxvii.- 
xxxix. ; A. Lang, Custom and Myth 
(London, 1884), pp. 6i,sqq.; S. Baring- 
Gould, Curious Myths of the Middle 
Ages, pp. 561-578 ; E. Cosquin, Contes 
populaires de Lorraine, ii. 215-230; 
W. A. Clouston, Popular Tales and 
Fictions, i. 182-191 ; Miss M. Roalfe 
Cox, Introduction to Folklore (London, 
i89S)> PP- 120-123. 


The story It would, no doubt, be a mistake to suppose that totemism, 

parentage o*" ^ System of taboos resembling it, must have existed 
of vik- wherever such stories are told ; for it is certain that popular 
l^^po'S tales spread by diffusion from tribe to tribe and nation to 
to a line of nation, till they may be handed down by oral tradition 
had the among people who neither practise nor even understand the 
ass for customs in which the stories originated. Yet the legend of 

their crest , . , r tt-. i- ii 

or totem, the miraculous parentage of Vikramaditya may very well 

Similarly have been based on the existence at Ujjain of a line of 

rafah^^f^ rajahs who had the ass for their crest or totem.^ Such a 

Nagpur custom is not without analogy in India. The crest of the 

cobra for Maharajah of Nagpur is a cobra with a human face under 

their crest jts expanded hood, surrounded by all the insignia of royalty. 

origin of Moreover, the Rajah and the chief members of his family 
the crest is always Wear turbans so arranged that they resemble a coiled 

explamed ' .,.,, . , _, 

by a story Serpent With its head projectmg over the wearers brow. To 
°f B ^ '^^'^ explain this serpent badge a tale is told which conforms to 
and the the type of Beauty and the Beast. Once upon a time a 
Beast. jq^g^g Qj. serpent named Pundarika took upon himself the 
likeness of a Brahman, and repaired in that guise to the 
house of a real Brahman at Benares, in order to perfect 
himself in a knowledge of the sacred books. The teacher 
was so pleased with the progress made by his pupil that he 
gave him his only child, the beautiful Parvati, to wife. But 
the subtle serpent, though he could assume any form at 
pleasure, was unable to rid himself of his forked tongue and 
foul breath. To conceal these personal blemishes from his 
wife he always slept with his back to her. One night, 
however, she got round him and discovered his unpleasant 
peculiarities. She questioned him sharply, and to divert 
her attention he proposed that they should make a pilgrim- 
age to Juggernaut. The idea of visiting that fashionable 
watering-place so raised the lady's spirits that she quite forgot 
to pursue the enquiry. However, on their way home her 
curiosity revived, and she repeated her questions under 
circumstances which rendered it impossible for the serpent, 

' In the ruins of Raipoor, supposed to explain their occurrence. The coins 

to be the ancient Mandavie, coins are are called Gandharva pice. See Mrs. 

found bearing the image of an ass; Postans, Cutch (London, 1839), pp. 

and the legend of the transformation 17 sq., 22. 
of Gandharva-Sena into an ass is told 


as a tender husband, to evade them, though well he knew 
that the disclosure he was about to make would sever him, 
the immortal, at once and for ever from his mortal wife. He 
related the wondrous tale, and, plunging into a pool, dis- 
appeared from sight. His poor wife was inconsolable at his 
hurried departure, and in the midst of her grief and remorse 
her child was born. But instead of rejoicing at the birth, 
she made for herself a funeral pyre and perished in the 
flames. At that moment a Brahman appeared on the scene, 
and perceived the forsaken babe lying sheltered and guarded 
by a great hooded snake. It was the serpent father protect- 
ing his child. Addressing the Brahman, he narrated his 
history, and foretold that the child should be called Phani- 
Makuta Raya, that is, " the snake crowned," and that he 
should reign as rajah over the country to be called Nagpur. 
That is why the rajahs of Nagpur have the serpent for their 
crest.^ Again, the rajahs of Manipur trace their descent Again, the 
from a divine snake. At his installation a rajah of Manipur ^^}'^J' °^ 

•' *^ Manipur 

used to have to pass with great solemnity between two trace their 
massive dragons of stone which stood in front of the ^^^^ 
coronation house. Somewhere inside the building was a divine 
mysterious chamber, and in the chamber was a pipe, which, °^''p^"'- 
according to the popular belief, led down to the depths of a 
cavern where dwells the snake god, the ancestor of the royal 
family. The length and prosperity of the rajah's reign were 
believed to depend on the length of time he could sit on the 
pipe enduring the fiery breath of his serpentine forefather in 
the place below. Women are specially devoted to the 
worship of the ancestral snake, and great reverence is paid 
them in virtue of their sacred office.^ 

The parallelism between the legends of Nagpur and Ujjain 
may be allowed to strengthen my conjecture that, if we have 
a race of royal serpents in the one place, there may well have 
been a race of royal asses in the other ; indeed such dynasties 
have perhaps not been so rare as might be supposed. 

1 E. T. Dalton, Descriptive Eth- Tribes of Manipur," Journal of the 
nology of Bengal, pp. 165 sq. Anthropological Institute, xxxi. (1901) 

2 T. C. Hodson, "The Native pp. 302, 304. 



Stories of TALES of the foregoing sort might be dismissed as fictions 
Beaotrand designed to amuse a leisure hour, were it not for their 
the Beast remarkable agreement with beliefs and customs which, as we 
mere have seen, still exist, or are known to have existed in former 

fictions, times. That agreement can hardly be accidental. We 

but rest on ,..«,, ^ . . , 

a real basis Seem to be justified, therefore, in assuming that stories 
of belief Qf ^jjg jjind really rest on a basis of facts, however much 


custom. these facts may have been distorted or magnified in passing 
through the mind of the story-teller, who is naturally more 

Similarly concerned to amuse than instruct his hearers. Even the 

of^ings"^ legend of a line of kings of whom each reigned for a single 

who were day, and was sacrified at night for the good of the people, 

after a will hardly seem incredible when we remember that to this 

reign of a Jay a kingdom is held on a similar tenure in west Africa, 

has its though under modern conditions the throne stands vacant.-' 

analogy in ^jjj while it would be vain to rely on such stories for exact 


custom. historical details, yet they may help us in a general way to 
Such understand the practical working of an institution which to 

dicate^that civilised men seems at first sight to belong to the cloudland 
the supply of fancy rather than to the sober reality of the workaday 
may hive World. Remark, for example, how in these stories the 
been main- supply of kings is maintained. In the Indian tradition all 

tainedby , - , . ,. , , 

compelling the men of the city are put on a list, and each of them, 
™^° '°th ^^^^ '^'s *^"''" comes, is forced to reign for a day and to die 
fatal sove- the death. It is not left to his choice to decide whether he 
reignty. .^^jjj accept j-hg fatal sovereignty or not. In the Higk 
History of the Holy Grail the mode of filling the vacant 

1 See above, pp. 1 1 8 sq. 


throne is different. A stranger, not a citizen, is seized and 
compelled to accept office. In the end, no doubt, the dwarf 
volunteers to be king, thus saving Lancelot's life ; but the 
narrative plainly implies that if a substitute had not thus 
been found, Lancelot would have been obliged, whether he 
would or not, to wear the crown and to perish in the fire. 

In thus representing the succession to a throne as com- our con- 
pulsory, the stories may well preserve a reminiscence of a "^^P^jons 
real custom. To us, indeed, who draw our ideas of kingship primitive 
from the hereditary and highly privileged monarchies of^J°^^p|P^ 
civilised Europe, the notion of thrusting the crown upon be coloured 
reluctant strangers or common citizens of the lowest rank is ^^ ^^^' 
apt to appear fantastic and absurd. But that is merely ideas bor- 
because we fail to realise how widely the modern type of thrvery "" 
kingship has diverged from the ancient pattern. In early different 
times the duties of sovereignty are more conspicuous than of modern 
its privileges. At a certain stage of development the chief Europe. 
or king is rather the minister or servant than the ruler of 
his people. The sacred functions which he is expected to 
discharge are deemed essential to the welfare, and even the 
existence, of the community, and at any cost some one must 
be found to perform them. Yet the burdens and restrictions 
of all sorts incidental to the early kingship are such that not 
merely in popular tales, but in actual practice, compulsion 
has sometimes been found necessary to fill vacancies, while 
elsewhere the lack of candidates has caused the office to fall 
into abeyance, or even to be abolished altogether.^ And 
where death stared the luckless monarch in the face at the 
end of a brief reign of a few months or days, we need not 
wonder that gaols had to be swept and the dregs of society 
raked to find a king. 

Yet we should doubtless err if we supposed that under in other 
such hard conditions men could never be found ready and ^^^^^ ^"^^ 
even eager to accept the sovereignty. A variety of causes many men 
has led the modern nations of western Europe to set on ™^^^ ^^^ 
human life — their own life and that of others — a higher value willing to 
than is put upon it by many other races. The result is a kingdom 
fear of death which is certainly not shared in the same 0° con- 

1 See The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings, vol. ii. p. 4 ; Taboo and the 
Perils of the Soul, pp. 17 sqq. 


dition of degree of intensity by some peoples whom we in our self- 
artheend complacency are accustomed to regard as our inferiors, 
of a short Among the causes which thus tend to make us cowards may 
v^ious be numbered the spread of luxury and the doctrines of a 
causes have gloomy theology, which by proclaiming the eternal damna- 
to intensify tion and excruciating torments of the vast majority of man- 
the fear of Yi^^ has added incalculably to the dread and horror of death, 
modern The growth of humancr sentiments, which seldom fails to 
Europe. effect a corresponding amelioration in the character even of 
the gods, has indeed led many Protestant divines of late years 
to temper the rigour of the divine justice with a large infu- 
sion of mercy by relegating the fires of hell to a decent 
obscurity or even extinguishing them altogether. But these 
lurid flames appear to blaze as fiercely as ever in the more 
conservative theology of the Catholic Church.^ 
Evidence It would be easy to accumulate evidence of the indiffer- 

paratlve"" ^"^^ °'' ^P^thy exhibited in presence of death by races whom 
indifference we commonly brand as lower. A few examples must here 
displayed suffice. Speaking of the natives of India an English writer 
by other observes : " We place the highest value on life, while they, 
.^ ■ ^ being blessed with a comfortable fatalism, which assumes 

Absence of ° 

the fear of that each man s destiny is written on his forehead in invisible 
India and characters, and being besides untroubled with any doubts or 
Annam. thoughts as to the nature of their reception in the next 
world, take matters of life and death a great deal more 
unconcernedly, and, compared with our ideas, they may be 
said to present an almost apathetic indifference on these 
subjects." ^ To the same effect another English writer 
remarks that " the absence of that fear of death, which is so 
powerful in the hearts of civilised men, is the most remark- 
able trait in the Hindu character." ^ Among the natives of 
Annam, according to a Catholic missionary, " the subject 
of death has nothing alarming for anybody. In presence 
of a sick man people will speak of his approaching end 

1 See Dr. Joseph Bautz, Die Holle, the University of Miinster, and his 

im Anschluss an die Scholastik darge- book is published with the approbation 

jife///2 (Mainz, 1905). Dr. Bautz holds of the Catholic Church, 

that the damned burn in eternal dark- ^ R. H. Elliot, Experiences of a 

ness and eternal fire somewhere in Planter in the Jungles of Mysore 

the bowels of the earth. He is, let us (London, 1871), i. 95. 

hope in more senses than one, an ' Mrs. Postans, Cutch (London, 

extraordinaiy professor of theology at 1839), p. 168. 


and of his funeral as readily as of anything else. Hence 
we never need to take the least verbal precaution in 
warning the sick to prepare themselves to receive the 
last sacraments. Some time ago I was summoned to a 
neophyte whose death, though certain, was still distant. On 
entering the house I found a woman seated at his bedside 
sewing the mourning dresses of the family. Moreover, the 
carpenter was fitting together the boards of the coffin quite 
close to the door of the house, so that the dying man could 
observe the whole proceeding from his bed. The worthy 
man superintended personally all these details and gave 
directions for each of the operations. He even had for his 
pillow part of the mourning costume which was already 
finished. I could tell you a host of anecdotes of the same 
sort." Among these people it is a mark of filial piety to 
present a father or mother with a coffin ; the presentation is 
the occasion of a family festival to which all friends are 
invited. Pupils display their respect for their masters in the 
same fashion. Bishop Masson, whose letter I have just 
quoted, was himself presented with a fine coffin by some of 
his converts as a New Year gift and a token of their respect 
and affection ; they invited his attention particularly to the 
quality of the wood and the beauty of the workmanship.^ 

With regard to the North American Indians a writer Absence of 
who knew them well has said that among them " the idea ^g^th" ° 
of immortality is strongly dwelt upon. It is not spoken of among the 
as a supposition or a mere belief, not fixed. It is regarded in'dkn?" 
as an actuality, — as something known and approved by the 
judgment of the nation. During the whole period of my 
residence and travels in the Indian country, I never knew 
and never heard of an Indian who did not believe in it, and 
in the reappearance of the body in a future state. However 
mistaken they are on the subject of accountabilities for acts 
done in the present life, no small part of their entire myth- 
ology, and the belief that sustains the man in his vicissitudes 
and wanderings here, arises from the anticipation of ease and 
enjoyment in a future condition, after the soul has left the 
body. The resignation, nay, the alacrity with which an 

1 Mgr. Masson, in Annales de la Propagation de la Foi, xxiv. (1852) pp. 
324 sq. 


Indian frequently lies down and surrenders life, is to be 
ascribed to this prevalent belief. He does not fear to go to 
a land which, all his life long, he has heard abounds in 
rewards without punishments." ■^ Another traveller, who saw 
much of the South American Indians, asserts that they 
surpass the beasts in their insensibility to hardship and pain, 
never complaining in sickness nor even when they are being 
killed, and exhibiting in their last moments an apathetic 
indifference untroubled by any misgiving as to the future.^ 

Wholesale butcheries of human beings were perpetrated 
till lately in the name of religion in the west African 
kingdom of Dahomey. As to the behaviour of the victims 
we are told that " almost invariably, those doomed to die 
exhibit the greatest coolness and unconcern. The natural 
dread of death which the instinct of self-preservation has 
implanted in every breast, often leads persons who are liable 
to be seized for immolation to endeavour to escape ; but 
once they are seized and bound, they resign themselves to 
their fate with the greatest apathy. This is partly due to 
the less delicate nervous system of the negro ; but one 
reason, and that not the least, is that they have nothing to 
fear. As has been said, they have but to undergo a surgical 
operation and a change of place of residence ; there is no 
uncertain future to be faced, and, above all, there is an 
entire absence of that notion of a place of terrible punish- 
ment which makes so many Europeans cowards when face 
to face with death." ^ One of the earliest European settlers 
on the coast of Brazil has remarked on the indifference 
exhibited by the Indian prisoners who were about to be 
massacred by their enemies. He conversed with the 
captives, men young, strong, and handsome. To his 
question whether they did not fear the death that was so 
near and so appalling, they replied with laughter and 
mockery. When he spoke of ransoming them from their 
foes, they jeered at the cowardice of Europeans.* The 

* H. R. Schoolcraft, Indian Tribes Peoples of the Slave Coast, p. 127. 

of the United States, ii. (Philadelphia, The testimony of a soldier on such a 

1853), p. 68. point is peculiarly valuable. 

^ F. de Azara, Voyages dans I' Ami- * A. The vet, Les Singularitez de 

rique MMdionale, ii. 181. la France Antarctique (Antwerp, 

^ A. B. Ellis, The Ewe-speaking 1558), pp. 74 sq. ; id., Cosmographie 


Khonds of India practised an extensive system of human 
sacrifice, of which we shall hear more in the sequel. The 
victims, known as Meriahs, were kept for years to be 
sacrificed, and their manner of death was peculiarly horrible, 
since they were hacked to pieces or slowly roasted alive. 
Yet when these destined victims were rescued by the English 
ofificers who were engaged in putting down the custom, they 
generally availed themselves of any opportunity to escape 
from their deliverers and returned to their fate.^ In Uganda 
there were formerly many sacrificial places where human 
victims used to be slaughtered or burned to death, some- 
times in hundreds, from motives of superstition. " Those 
who have taken part in these executions bear witness how 
seldom a victim, whether man or woman, raised his voice to 
protest or appeal against the treatment meted out to him. 
The victims went to death (so they thought) to save their 
country and race from some calamity, and they laid down 
their lives without a murmur or a struggle." ^ 

But it is not merely that men of other races and other Further, 
religions submit to inevitable death with an equanimity ™™ °^ 

° n ./ other races 

which modern Europeans in general cannot match ; they often 
actually seek and find it for reasons which seem to us wholly ^^^J^ ^^e.^ 
inadequate. The motives which lead them to sacrifice their voluntarily 
lives are very various. Among them religious fanaticism which^°"^ 
has probably been one of the commonest, and in the preced-s^™'°."s 
ing pages we have met with many instances of voluntary adequate, 
deaths incurred under its powerful impulse.' But more 
secular motives, such as loyalty, revenge, and an excessive 
sensibility on the point of honour, have also driven multi- 
tudes to throw away their lives with a levity which may 
strike the average modern Englishman as bordering on 
insanity. It may be well to illustrate this comparative 
indifference to death by a few miscellaneous examples 
drawn from different races. Thus, when the king of Benin 

universelle (Paris, IS75), p. 945 learned the facts in the year 1853 from 

[979]. his friend Captain Gore, of the 29th 

' My informant was the late Captain Madras Native Infantry, who rescued 

W. C. Robinson, formerly of the 2nd some of the victims. 

Bombay Europeans (Company's Ser- ^ Rev. J. Roscoe, The Baganda 

vice), afterwards resident at 15 Chester- (London, 191 1), p. 338. 

ton Hall Crescent, Cambridge. He ^ See above, pp. 42 j^^., t,i^ sqq. 


Thus died and was about to be lowered into the earth, his 
have freely f^vourites and servants used to compete with each other 
allowed for the privilege of being buried alive with his body in order 
to'te^kiued that they might attend and minister to him in the other 
in order to world. After the dispute was settled and the tomb had 
their dead'' closed over the dead and the living, sentinels were set to 
ruler to the watch it day and night. Next day the sepulchre would be 
world. opened and some one would call down to the entombed 
men to know what they were doing and whether any of 
them had gone to serve the king. The answer was 
commonly, " No, not yet." The third day the same question 
would be put, and a voice would reply that so-and-so had 
gone to join his Majesty. The first to die was deemed the 
happiest. In four or five days when no answer came up to 
the question, and all was silent in the grave, the heir to the 
throne was informed, and he signalised his accession by 
kindling a fire on the tomb, roasting flesh at it, and dis- 
tributing the meat to the people.^ The daughter of a 
Mbaya chief in South America, having been happily baptized 
at the very point of death, was accorded Christian burial in 
the church by the Jesuit missionary who had rescued her 
like a brand from the burning. But an old heathen woman 
of the tribe took it sadly to heart that her chiefs daughter 
should not be honoured with the usual human sacrifices. 
So, drawing an Indian aside, she implored him to be so kind 
as to knock her on the head, that she might go and serve 
her young mistress in the Land of Souls. The savage 
obligingly complied with her request, and the whole horde 
begged the missionary that her body might be buried with 
that of the chiefs daughter. The Jesuit sternly refused. 
He informed them that the girl was now with the angels, 
and stood in need of no such attendant. As for the old 
woman, he observed grimly that she had gone to a very 
different place and would move in a very different circle of 
society.^ When Otho committed suicide after the battle of 
Bedriacum, some of his soldiers slew themselves at his pyre, 
and their example was afterwards followed by many of their 

1 O. Dapper, Description de I' A- ^ r_ Southey, History of Brazil, 

frique (Amsterdam, 1686), p. 312 ; H. iii. 391 sq. 
Ling Roth, Great Benin, p. 43. 


comrades in the armies which had marched with Otho to 
meet Vitellius ; their motive was not fear of the conqueror, 
but purely loyalty and devotion to their emperor.-* 

In the East that indifference to human life which seems in the 
so strange to the Western mind often takes a peculiar form, ^l^^^ 
A man will sometimes kill himself merely in order to be sometimes 
revenged on his foe, believing that his ghost will haunt and sul^^e in 
torment the survivor, or expecting that punishment of some order to 
sort will overtake the wretch who drove him to this extreme themselves 
step.^ Among some peoples etiquette requires that if a man °° *p''' 
commits suicide for this purpose, his enemy should at once 
follow his example. To take a single example. There is Law of 
a caste of robbers in southern India among whom "the law [^'^ '^^'J,'^" ^ 
of retaliation prevails in all its rigour. If a quarrel takes caste of 
place, and somebody tears out his own eye or kills himself, j^jia. 
his adversary must do the same either to himself or to one 
of his relations. The women carry this barbarity still 
further. For a slight affront put on them, a sharp word 
said to them, they will go and smash their head against the 
door of her who offended them, and the latter is obliged 
immediately to do the same. If a woman poisons herself 
by drinking the juice of a poisonous herb, the other woman 
who drove her to this violent death must poison herself 
likewise ; else her house will be burned, her cattle carried 
off, and injuries of all kinds done her until satisfaction is 
given. They extend this cruelty even to their own children. 
Not long ago, a few steps from the church in which I have 
the honour to write to you, two of these barbarians having 
quarrelled, one of them ran to his house, took from it a 
child of about four years, and crushed its head between two 
stones in the presence of his enemy. The latter, without 
exhibiting any emotion, took his nine-years' old daughter, 
and, plunging a dagger into her breast, said, ' Your child was 
only four years old, mine was nine years old. Give me a 
victim to equal her.' 'Certainly,' replied the other, and 
seeing at his side his eldest son, who was ready to be 
married, he stabbed him four or five times with his dagger : 

1 Tacitus, ^w/cn ii. 49 ; Plutarch, motiv," Globus, Ixxiv. {1898) pp. 

Otho, 17. 37-39- 

2 R. Lasch, " Rache als Selbstmord- 


and, not content with shedding the blood of his two sons, he 
killed his wife too, in order to oblige his enemy to murder 
his wife in like manner. Lastly, a little girl and a baby at 
the breast had also their throats cut, so that in a single day 
seven persons were sacrificed to the vengeance of two blood- 
thirsty men, more cruel than the most ferocious brutes. I 
have actually in my church a young man who sought refuge 
among us, wounded by a spear-thrust which his father 
inflicted on him in order to kill him and thus oblige his foe 
to slay his own son in like manner. The barbarian had 
already stabbed two of his children on other occasions for 
the same purpose. Such atrocious examples will seem to 
you to partake more of fable than of truth ; but believe me 
that far from exaggerating, I could produce many others not 
less tragical." ^ 
Contempt The Same contempt of death which many races have 

exhiwtedin^'^'^ibi'^^'i in modern times was displayed in antiquity by the 
antiquity hardy natives of Europe before Christianity had painted the 
Thracians world beyond the grave in colours at which even their bold 
and the spirits quailed. Thus, for example, at their banquets the 
rude Thracians used to suspend a halter over a movable 
stone and cast lots among themselves. The man on whom 
the lot fell mounted the stone with a scimitar in his hand 
and thrust his head into the noose. A comrade then rolled 
the stone from under him, and while he did so the other 
attempted to sever the rope with his scimitar. If he suc- 
ceeded he dropped to the ground and was saved ; if he failed, 
he was hanged, and his dying struggles were greeted with 
peals of laughter by his fellows, who regarded the whole 
thing as a capital joke.^ The Greek traveller Posidonius, 
who visited Gaul early in the first century before our era, 
records that among the Celts men were to be found who for 
a sum of money or a number of jars of wine, which they 
distributed among their kinsmen or friends, would allow 
themselves to be publicly slaughtered in a theatre. They 

^ Father Martin, Jesuit missionary, English Government has long since 

in Leitres idifiantes et curieuses, Nou- done its best to suppress these 

velle Edition, xi. (Paris, 1781), pp. practices. 
246-248. Tlie letter was written at 

Marava, in the mission of Madura, ^ Seleucus, quoted by Athenaeus, 

8th November 1709. No doubt the iv. 42, p. 155 D e. 


lay down on their backs upon a shield and a man came and 
cut their throats with a sword.^ 

A Greek author, Euphorion of Chalcis, who lived in the in ancient 
age when the eyes of all the world were turned on the great ^ere men ^ 
conflict between Rome and Carthage for the mastery of the willing to 
Mediterranean, tells us that at Rome it was customary to headed for 
advertise for men who would consent to be beheaded with a sum of 

. , , . - . . _ - . five minae. 

an axe in consideration of receiving a sum of five mmae, or 

about twenty pounds of our money, to be paid after their 

death to their heirs. Apparently there was no lack of 

applicants for this hard-earned bounty ; for we are informed 

that several candidates would often compete for the privilege, 

each of them arguing that he had the best right to be 

cudgelled to death.^ Why were these men invited to be 

beheaded for twenty pounds a piece ? and why in response 

to the invitation did they gratuitously, as it would seem, 

express their readiness to suffer a much more painful death 

than simple decapitation ? The reasons are not stated by 

Euphorion in the brief extract quoted from his work by 

Athenaeus, the Greek writer who has also preserved for us 

the testimony of Posidonius to the Gallic recklessness of life. 

But the connexion in which Athenaeus cites both these 

passages suggests that the intention of the Roman as of the 

Gallic practice was merely to minister to the brutal pleasure 

of the spectators ; for he inserts his account of the customs in 

a dissertation on banquets, and he had just before described 

how hired ruffians fought and butchered each other at Roman 

dinner-parties for the amusement of the tipsy guests.' Or 

perhaps the men were wanted to be slaughtered at funerals, 

for we know that at Rome a custom formerly prevailed of 

sacrificing human beings at the tomb : the victims were 

commonly captives or slaves,* but they may sometimes have 

• Posidonius, quoted by Athenaeus, practised by many savage and barbarous 

iv. 40, p. 154 B c. peoples, was in later times so far miti- 

2 Euphorion of Chalcis, quoted by gated at Rome that the destined victims 
Athenaeus, iv. 40, p. 154 C; Eusta- were allowed to fight each other, which 
thius on Homer, Odyssey, xviii. 46, p. gave some of them a chance of surviv- 
1837. ing. This mitigation of human sacrifice 

3 Athenaeus, iv. 39, p. iS3 E F, is said to have been introduced by D. 
quoting Nicolaus Damascenus. Junius Brutus in the third century B.C. 

^ Tertullian, De spectacuHs, 12. (Livy, Epit. xvi.). It resembles the 
The custom of sacrificing human beings change which I suppose to have taken 
in honour of the dead, which has been place at Nemi and Other places, where. 


been obtained by advertisement from among the class of 
needy freemen. Such wretches in bidding against each 
other may have pleaded as a reason for giving them the 
preference that they really deserved for their crimes to die a 
slow and painful death under the cudgel of the executioner. 
This explanation of the custom, which I owe to my friend 
Mr. W. Wyse, is perhaps the most probable. But it is also 
possible, though the language of Euphorion does not 
lend itself so well to this interpretation, that a cudgelling 
preceded decapitation as part of the bargain. If that was 
so, it would seem that the men were wanted to die as sub- 
stitutes for condemned criminals ; for in old Rome capital 
punishment was regularly inflicted in this fashion, the male- 
factors being tied up to a post and scourged with rods before 
they were beheaded with an axe.^ There is nothing im- 
probable in the view that persons could be hired to suffer 
the extreme penalty of the law instead of the real culprits. 
We shall see that a voluntary substitution of the same sort is 
reported on apparently good authority to be still occasionally 
practised in China. However, it is immaterial to our purpose 
whether these men perished to save others, to adorn a funeral, 
or merely to gratify the Roman lust for blood. The one thing 
that concerns us is that in the great age of Rome there were 
to be found Romans willing, nay, eager to barter their lives 
for a paltry sum of money of which they were not even to 
have the enjoyment. No wonder that men made of that stuff 
founded a great empire, and spread the terror of the Roman 
arms from the Grampians to the tropics.^ 
Chinese The Comparative indifference with which the Chinese 

to death"'^^ regard their lives is attested by the readiness with which 
they commit suicide on grounds which often seem to the 
European extremely trifling.^ A still more striking proof 

if I am right, kings were at first put to tropics. The empire did not reach 

death inexorably at the end of a fixed this its extreme limit till after the age 

period, but were afterwards permitted of Augustus. See Th. Mommsen, 

to defend themselves in single combat. Romische Geschickte, v. 594 sg. Strabo 

1 Livy, ii. 5. 8, xxvi. 13. 15, xxviii. speaks (xvii. i. 48, p. 817) as if Syene, 

29. II ; Polybius, i. 7. 12, xi. 30. 2 ; which was held by a Roman garrison 

Th. Mommsen, Romisches Strafrecht of three cohorts, were within the 

(Leipsic, l899),_pp. 916 sqq. tropics ; but that is a mistake. 

^ Hiera Sykaminos (Maharrakd), the ' For some evidence see J. H. Gray, 

furthest point of the Roman dominion China, i. 329 sqq. ; H. Norman, The 

in southern Egypt, lies within the Peoples and Politics of the Far East 


of their apathy in this respect is furnished by the readiness 
with which in China a man can be induced to suffer death 
for a sum of money to be paid to his relatives. Thus, for 
example, "one of the most wealthy of the aboriginal tribes, 
called Shurii-Kia-Miau, is remarkable for the practice of a 
singular and revolting religious ceremony. The people 
possess a large temple, in which is an idol in the form of 
a dog. They resort to this shrine on a certain day every 
year to worship. At this annual religious festival it is, I 
believe, customary for the wealthy members of the tribe to 
entertain their poorer brethren at a banquet given in honour 
of one who has agreed, for a sum of money paid to his 
family, to allow himself to be offered as a sacrifice on the 
altar of the dog idol. At the end of the banquet the victim, 
having drunk wine freely, is put to death before the idol. 
This people believe that, were they to neglect this rite, they 
would be visited with pestilence, famine, or the sword." ^ 
Further, it is said that in China a man condemned to death 
can procure a substitute, who, for a small sum, will volun- 
tarily consent to be executed in his stead. The money goes 
to the substitute's kinsfolk, and since to increase the family 
prosperity at the expense of personal suffering is regarded 
by the Chinese as an act of the highest virtue, there is re- 
ported to be, just as there used to be in ancient Rome, quite 
a competition among the candidates for death. Such a sub- 
stitution is even recognised by the Chinese authorities, except 
in the case of certain grave crimes, as for instance parricide. 
The local mandarin is probably not averse to the arrangement, 
for he is said to make a pecuniary profit by the transaction, 

(London, 1905), pp. 277 sq. On this would gain a vantage ground by 

subject the Rev. Dr. W. T. A. Barber, becoming a ghost, and thus able 

Headmaster of the Leys School, Cam- to plague his enemy in the flesh. 

bridge, formerly a missionary in China, Probably blind anger has more to do 

writes to me as follows (3rd February with it than either of these causes. 

igo2): "Undoubtedly the Eastern, But the particular mode would not 

through his belief in Fate, has com- ordinarily occur to a Western. I am 

paratively little fear of death. I have bound to say that in many cases the 

sometimes seen the Chinese in great fear; patient was ready enough to take my 

but, on the other hand, I have saved at medicines, but mostly it was the friends 

least a hundred lives of people who had who were most eager, and exceedingly 

swallowed opium out of spite against rarely did I receive thanks from the 

some one else, the idea being, first, the rescued." 

trouble given by minions of the law to ^ J. H. Gray (Archdeacon of Hong- 

the survivor ; second, that the dead kong), China (London, 1878), ii. 306. 

PT. Ill ^ 


engaging a substitute for a less sum than he received from 
the condemned man, and pocketing the difference.-' 
We must The foregoing evidence may suffice to convince us that 

of aii^men's ^^ should commit a grievous error were we to judge all 
love of life men's love of life by our own, and to assume that others 
own."^ cannot hold cheap what we count so dear. We shall never 
understand the long course of human history if we persist 
in measuring mankind in all ages and in all countries by 
the standard, perhaps excellent but certainly narrow, of the 
modern English middle class with their love of material comfort 
and " their passionate, absorbing, almost bloodthirsty clinging 
to life." That class, of which I may say, in the words of 
Matthew Arnold, that I am myself a feeble unit, doubtless 
possesses many estimable qualities, but among them can 
hardly be reckoned the rare and delicate gift of historical 
imagination, the power of entering into the thoughts and 
feelings of men of other ages and other countries, of con- 
ceiving that they may regulate their life by principles which 
do not square with ours, and may throw it away for objects 
which to us might seem ridiculously inadequate.^ 
Hence it is To return, therefore, to the point from which we started, 
that in * we may safely assume that in some races, and at some 
some races periods of history, though certainly not in the well-to-do 
some classes of England to-day, it might be easy to find men who 
periods of ^ould willingly accept a kingdom with the certainty of being 
would be put to death after a reign of a year or less. Where men are 
easy to find j-gady, as they have been in Gaul, in Rome, and in China, to 

' The particulars in the text are 378 j?.). However, from his personal 
taken, with Lord Avebury's kind per- enquiries Professor Parker is con- 
mission, from a letter addressed to him vinced that in such matters the local 
by Mr. M. W. Lampson of the Foreign mandarin can do what he pleases, pro- 
Office. See Note A at the end of the vided that he observes the form of law 
volume. Speaking of capital punish- and gives no oflfence to his superiors, 
ment in China, Professor E. H. Parker 

says: " It is popularly stated that sub- " My friend, the late Sir Francis 

stitutes can be bought for Taels 50, and Galton, mentioned in conversation a 

most certainly this statement is more phrase which described the fear of 

than true, so far as the price of human death as " the Western (or European) 

life is concerned ; but it is quite malady," but he did not remember 

another question whether the gaolers where he had met with it. He wrote 

and judges can always be bribed" (E. to me (i8th October 1902) that "our 

H. Parker, Professor of Chinese at the fear of death is presumably much 

Owens College, Manchester, China greater than that of the barbarians who 

Past and Present, London, 1903, pp. -were our far-back ancestors." 


yield up their lives at once for a paltry sum of which they men willing 
are themselves to reap no benefit, would they not be willing y^^'^^o^' * 
to purchase at the same price a year's tenure of a throne ? on con- 
Among people of that sort the difficulty would probably be bdngidLd 
not so much to find a candidate for the crown as to decide at the end 
between the conflicting claims of a multitude of competitors, reign. " 
In point of fact we have heard of a Shilluk clamouring 
to be made king on condition of being killed at the end of 
a brief reign of a single day, and we have read how in 
Malabar a crowd scrambled for the bloody head which 
entitled the lucky man who caught it to be decapitated after 
five years of unlimited enjoyment, and how at Calicut many 
men used to rush cheerfully on death, not for a kingship of 
a year, or even of an hour, but merely for the honour of 
displaying their valour in a fruitless attack on the king.-' 

' See above, pp. 23, 49 sqq., 52 sq. 



Annual In some places the modified form of the old custom of regi- 
ofkiii^s°° '-''^^ which appears to have prevailed at Babylon^ has been 
and their further Softened down. The king still abdicates annually for 
temporarily ^ short time and his place is filled by a more or less nominal 
taken by sovereign ; but at the close of his short reign the latter is 
sovereigns, ^o longer killed, though sometimes a mock execution still 
survives as a memorial of the time when he was actually 
Temporary put to death. To take examples. In the month of M^ac 
Cambodia. (February) the king of Cambodia annually abdicated for 
three days. During this time he performed no act of 
authority, he did not touch the seals, he did not even receive 
the revenues which fell due. In his stead there reigned a 
temporary king called Sdach Mdac, that is, King February. 
The office of temporary king was hereditary in a family 
distantly connected with the royal house, the sons succeed- 
ing the fathers and the younger brothers the elder brothers, 
just as in the succession to the real sovereignty. On a 
favourable day fixed by the astrologers the temporary king 
was conducted by the mandarins in triumphal procession. 
He rode one of the royal elephants, seated in the royal 
palanquin, and escorted by soldiers who, dressed in appro- 
priate costumes, represented the neighbouring peoples of 
Siam, Annam, Laos, and so on. In place of the golden 
crown he wore a peaked white cap, and his regalia, instead 
of being of gold encrusted with diamonds, were of rough 
wood. After paying homage to the real king, from whom 
he received the sovereignty for three days, together with all 
1 See above, pp. 1 1 3 sqq. 


the revenues accruing during that time (though this last 
custom has been omitted for some time), he moved in 
procession round the palace and through the streets of the 
capital. On the third day, after the usual procession, the 
temporary king gave orders that the elephants should 
trample under foot the " mountain of rice," which was a 
scaffold of bamboo surrounded by sheaves of rice. The 
people gathered up the rice, each man taking home a little 
with him to secure a good harvest. Some of it was also taken 
to the king, who had it cooked and presented to the monks.^ 

In Siam on the sixth day of the moon in the sixth Temporary 
month (the end of April) a temporary king is appointed, gl"^ j^ 
who for three days enjoys the royal prerogatives, the real former 
king remaining shut up in his palace. This temporary king ^^°' 
sends his numerous satellites in all directions to seize and 
confiscate whatever they can find in the bazaar and open 
shops ; even the ships and junks which arrive in harbour 
during the three days are forfeited to him and must be 
redeemed. He goes to a field in the middle of the city, 
whither they bring a gilded plough drawn by gaily-decked 
oxen. After the plough has been anointed and the oxen 
rubbed with incense, the mock king traces nine furrows with 
the plough, followed by aged dames of the palace scattering 
the first seed of the season. As soon as the nine furrows 
are drawn, the crowd of spectators rushes in and scrambles 
for the seed which has just been sown, believing that, mixed 
with the seed-rice, it will ensure a plentiful crop. Then the 
oxen are unyoked, and rice, maize, sesame, sago, bananas, 
sugar-cane, melons, and so on, are set before them ; whatever 
they eat first will, it is thought, be dear in the year following, 
though some people interpret the omen in the opposite sense. 
During this time the temporary king stands leaning against 
a tree with his right foot resting on his left knee. From 
standing thus on one foot he is popularly known as King 
Hop ; but his official title is Phaya Phollathep, " Lord 
of the Heavenly Hosts." ^ He is a sort of Minister of 

1 E. Aymonier, Notice sur le Cam- see E. Aymonier, op. cit. pp. 36 sq. 

fo<^(Paris, 1875), p. 61; J. Moura, Ze ''■ 0&\&'Lov!ohct, Du royaume de Siam 

Royaume du Cambodge (Paris, 1883), i. (Amsterdam, 1691), i. 56 sq. ; Turpin, 

327 J?. For the connexion of the tern- "History of Siam," in Pinkerton's 

poraryking'sfamilywiththe royal house, Voyages and Travels, ix. 581 sq. ; Mgr. 


Agriculture ; all disputes about fields, rice, and so forth, are 
referred to him. There is moreover another ceremony in 
which he personates the king. It takes place in the second 
month (which falls in the cold season) and lasts three days. 
He is conducted in procession to an open place opposite 
the Temple of the Brahmans, where there are a number 
of poles dressed like May-poles, upon which the Brahmans 
swing. All the while that they swing and dance, the Lord 
of the Heavenly Hosts has to stand on one foot upon a seat 
which is made of bricks plastered over, covered with a white 
cloth, and hung with tapestry. He is supported by a 
wooden frame with a gilt canopy, and two Brahmans stand 
one on each side of him. The dancing Brahmans carry 
buffalo horns with which they draw water from a large 
copper caldron and sprinkle it on the spectators ; this is 
supposed to bring good luck, causing the people to dwell in 
peace and quiet, health and prosperity. The time during 
which the Lord of the Heavenly Hosts has to stand on one 
foot is about three hours. This is thought " to prove the 
dispositions of the Devattas and spirits." If he lets his foot 
down " he is liable to forfeit his property and have his family 
enslaved by the king ; as it is believed to be a bad omen, 
portending destruction to the state, and instability to the 
throne. But if he stand firm he is believed to have gained 
a victory over evil spirits, and he has moreover the privilege, 
ostensibly at least, of seizing any ship which may enter the 
harbour during these three days, and taking its contents, and 
also of entering any open shop in the town and carrying 
away what he chooses." '^ 

Brugi^re, in Annales de I' Association de Young, the ceremony is generally held 

la Propagation de la Foi,y.{_\%T,\)-g^.\%?, about the middle of May, and no one 

sq. ; Pallegoix, Description du royaume is supposed to plough or sow till it is 

TAai ou Siam (Fans, 1854), i. 250; A. over. According to Loubere the title 

Bastian, Die Volker des ostlichen Asien, of the temporary king was Oc-ya Kaou, 

iii. 305-309, 526-528. Bowring (5za/«, or Lord of the Rice, and the office was 

i. 158 sq.) copies, as usual, from Palle- regarded as fatal, or at least calamitous 

goix. For a description of the ceremony {"funesie")\a\aca. 
as observed at the present day, see E. 

YoMn^,The Kingdom of the Yellow Rohe ' Lieut. -Col. James Low, "On the 

(Westminster, 1898), pp. 210 jy. The Laws of Muung Thai or Siam,"_/(?«?-- 

representative of the king no longer nal of the Indian Archipelago, i. (Simg&- 

enjoys his old privilege of seizing any pore, 1847) p. 339; A. Bastian, Die 

goods that are exposed for sale along the Volker des ostlichen Asien, iii. 98, 314, 

line of the procession. According to Mr. S26 sq. 


Such were the duties and privileges of the Siamese King Modern 
Hop down to about the middle of the nineteenth century t"^'°™ °^ 
or later. Under the reign of the late enlightened monarch kings in 
this quaint personage was to some extent both shorn of the ^"'™ 
glories and relieved of the burden of his office. He still 
watches, as of old, the Brahmans rushing through the air in 
a swing suspended between two tall masts, each some ninety 
feet high ; but he is allowed to sit instead of stand, and, 
although public opinion still expects him to keep his right 
foot on his left knee during the whole of the ceremony, he 
would incur no legal penalty were he, to the great chagrin 
of the people, to put his weary foot to the ground. Other 
signs, too, tell of the invasion of the East by the ideas and 
civilisation of the West. The thoroughfares that lead to the 
scene of the performance are blocked with carriages : lamp- 
posts and telegraph posts, to which eager spectators cling 
like monkeys, rise above the dense crowd ; and, while a tatter- 
demalion band of the old style, in gaudy garb of vermilion 
and yellow, bangs and tootles away on drums and trumpets 
of an antique pattern, the procession of barefooted soldiers 
in brilliant uniforms steps briskly along to the lively strains 
of a modern military band playing " Marching through 
Georgia." ^ 

On the first day of the sixth month, which was regarded Temporary 
as the beginning of the year, the king and people of Sama- g °^^'° 
racand used to put on new clothes and cut their hair and cand and 
beards. Then they repaired to a forest near the capital j.^p[ 
where they shot arrows on horseback for seven days. On 
the last day the target was a gold coin, and he who hit it 
had the right to be king for one day.^ In Upper Egypt on 
the first day of the solar year by Coptic reckoning, that is, on 
the tenth of September, when the Nile has generally reached 
its highest point, the regular government is suspended for 
three days and every town chooses its own ruler. This 

1 E. Young, The Kingdom of the superintend the latter. 
Yellow Robe, pp. 212-217. The writer 

tells us that though the Minister for ^ Ed. Chavannes, Documents sur les 

Agriculture still officiates at the Plough- Tou - Kiue ( Tuns) Occidentaux (St. 

ing Festival, he no longer presides at Petersburg, 1903), p. 133, note. The 

the Swinging Festival ; a different documents collected in this volume are 

nobleman is chosen every year to translated from the Chinese. 


temporary lord wears a sort of tall fool's cap and a long 
flaxen beard, and is enveloped in a strange mantle. With 
a wand of office in his hand and attended by men disguised 
as scribes, executioners, and so forth, he proceeds to the 
Governor's house. The latter allows himself to be deposed ; 
and the mock king, mounting the throne, holds a tribunal, 
to the decisions of which even the governor and his officials 
must bow. After three days the mock king is condemned 
to death ; the envelope or shell in which he was encased is 
committed to the flames, and from its ashes the Fellah 
creeps forth.^ The custom perhaps points to an old practice 
of burning a real king in grim earnest. In Uganda the 
brothers of the king used to be burned, because it was not 
lawful to shed the royal blood.^ 
Temporary The Mohammedan students of Fez, in Morocco, are 
Morocco, allowed to appoint a sultan of their own, who reigns for a 
few weeks, and is known as Sultan t-tulba, " the Sultan of 
the Scribes." This brief authority is put up for auction and 
knocked down to the highest bidder. It brings some sub- 
stantial privileges with it, for the holder is freed from taxes 
thenceforward, and he has the right of asking a favour from 
the real sultan. That favour is seldom refused ; it usually 
consists in the release of a prisoner. Moreover, the agents 
of the student-sultan levy fines on the shopkeepers and 
householders, against whom they trump up various humorous 
charges. The temporary sultan is surrounded with the 
pomp of a real court, and parades the streets in state with 
music and shouting, while a royal umbrella is held over his 
head. With the so-called fines and free-will offerings, to 
which the real sultan adds a liberal supply of provisions, the 
students have enough to furnish forth a magnificent banquet ; 
and altogether they enjoy themselves thoroughly, indulging 
in all kinds of games and amusements. For the first seven 
days the mock sultan remains in the college ; then he goes 
about a mile out of the town and encamps on the bank of 
the river, attended by the students and not a few of the 

' C. B. Klunzinger, Bilder aus Ober- p. 243. For evidence of a practice of 

dgypten der Wiiste und dem Rothen burning divine personages, see Adonis, 

j1/««r« (Stuttgart, 1877), pp. l%o sq. Attis, Osiris, Second Edition, pp. 84 

^ Taboo and the Perils of the Soul, sqq., 91 sqq., 139 sqq. 


citizens. On the seventh day of his stay outside the town 
he is visited by the real sultan, who grants him his request 
and gives him seven more days to reign, so that the reign 
of " the Sultan of the Scribes " nominally lasts three weeks. 
But when six days of the last week have passed the mock 
sultan runs back to the town by night. This temporary 
sultanship always falls in spring, about the beginning of 
April. Its origin is said to have been as follows. When 
Mulai Rasheed II. was fighting for the throne in 1664 or 
1665, a certain Jew usurped the royal authority at Taza. 
But the rebellion was soon suppressed through the loyalty 
and devotion of the students. To effect their purpose they 
resorted to an ingenious stratagem. Forty of them caused 
themselves to be packed in chests which were sent as a 
present to the usurper. In the dead of night, while the 
unsuspecting Jew was slumbering peacefully among the 
packing-cases, the lids were stealthily raised, the brave forty 
crept forth, slew the usurper, and took possession of the city 
in the name of the real sultan, who, to mark his gratitude 
for the help thus rendered him in time of need, conferred 
on the students the right of annually appointing a sultan of 
their own.^ The narrative has all the air of a fiction 
devised to explain an old custom, of which the real mean- 
ing and origin had been forgotten. 

A custom of annually appointing a mock king for a Temporary 
single day was observed at Lostwithiel in Cornwall down to CMnwaii. 
the sixteenth century. On " little Easter Sunday '' the free- 
holders of the town and manor assembled together, either in 
person or by their deputies, and one among them, as it fell 
to his lot by turn, gaily attired and gallantly mounted, with 
a crown on his head, a sceptre in his hand, and a sword 
borne before him, rode through the principal street to the 
church, dutifully attended by all the rest on horseback. 
The clergyman in his best robes received him at the church- 
yard stile and conducted him to hear divine service. On 
leaving the church he repaired, with the same pomp, to a 

1 Budgett Meakin, The Moors (Lon- sultan takes place the day after his 

don, 1902), pp. 312 sq. ; E. Aubin, meeting with the real sultan. The 

Le Maroc d' auJourcT hui (Paris, 1904), account in the text embodies some 

pp. 283-287. According to the latter notes which were kindly furnished me 

of these writers the flight of the mock by Dr. E. V^^estermarck. 


house provided for his reception. Here a feast awaited him 
and his suite, and being set at the head of the table he was 
served on bended knees, with all the rites due to the estate 
of a prince. The ceremony ended with the dinner, and 
every man returned home.^ 
Temporary Sometimes the temporary king occupies the throne, not 
be^n^ng^ annually, but once for all at the beginning of each reign, 
of a reign. Thus in the kingdom of Jambi, in Sumatra, it is the custom 
that at the beginning of a new reign a man of the people 
should occupy the throne and exercise the royal prerogatives 
for a single day. The origin of the custom is explained by 
a tradition that there were once five royal brothers, the four 
elder of whom all declined the throne on the ground of 
various bodily defects, leaving it to their youngest brother. 
But the eldest occupied the throne for one day, and reserved 
for his descendants a similar privilege at the beginning of 
every reign. Thus the office of temporary king is hereditary 
in a family akin to the royal house.^ In Bilaspur it seems 
to be the custom, after the death of a Rajah, for a Brahman 
to eat rice out of the dead Rajah's hand, and then to 
occupy the throne for a year. At the end of the year the 
Brahman receives presents and is dismissed from the 
territory, being forbidden apparently to return. " The idea 
seems to be that the spirit of the Rdja enters into the 
Brdhman who eats the khir (rice and milk) out of his hand 
when he is dead, as the Brahman is apparently carefully 
watched during the whole year, and not allowed to go 
away." The same or a similar custom is believed to obtain 
among the hill states about Kangra.^ The custom of banish- 
ing the Brahman who represents the king may be a substi- 
tute for putting him to death. At the installation of a 
prince of Carinthia a peasant, in whose family the office 

' R. Carew, Survey of Cornwall have to thank Mr. G. M. Trevelyan, 

(London, 1811), p. 322. I do not formerly Fellow of Trinity College, 

know what the writer means by "little Cambridge, for directing my attention 

Easter Sunday." The ceremony has to this interesting survival of what was 

often been described by subsequent doubtless a very ancient custom, 
writers, but they seem all to copy, ^ J. W. Boers, ' ' Oud volksgebruik 

directly or indirectly, from Carew, who in het Rijk van Jambi," Tijdschrift voor 

says that the custom had been yearly Nelrlands Indie, 1840, dl. i. pp. 372 

observed in past times and was only of sqq. 

late days discontinued . His Survey of ^ Panjab Notes and Queries, i. p. 86, 

Cornwall yias first printed in 1602. I § 674 (May' 1884). 


was hereditary, ascended a marble stone which stood sur- 
rounded by meadows in a spacious valley ; on his right 
stood a black mother-cow, on his left a lean ugly mare. A 
rustic crowd gathered about him. Then the future prince, 
dressed as a peasant and carrying a shepherd's staff, drew 
near, attended by courtiers and magistrates. On perceiving 
him the peasant called out, " Who is this whom I see 
coming so proudly along ? " The people answered, " The 
prince of the land." The peasant was then prevailed on to 
surrender the marble seat to the prince on condition of 
receiving sixty pence, the cow and mare, and exemption 
from taxes. But before yielding his place he gave the 
prince a light blow on the cheek.^ 

Some points about these temporary kings deserve to The 
be specially noticed before we pass to the next branch of J^^"^"^^ 
the evidence. In the first place, the Cambodian and charge 
Siamese examples shew clearly that it is especially the^^gicar 
divine or magical functions of the king which are trans- functions. 
ferred to his temporary substitute. This appears from the 
belief that by keeping up his foot the temporary king of 
Siam gained a victory over the evil spirits, whereas by 
letting it down he imperilled the existence of the state. 
Again, the Cambodian ceremony of trampling down the 
" mountain of rice," and the Siamese . ceremony of opening 
the ploughing and sowing, are charms to produce a plentiful 
harvest, as appears from the belief that those who carry 
home some of the trampled rice, or of the seed sown, will 
thereby secure a good crop. Moreover, when the Siamese 
representative of the king is guiding the plough, the people 
watch him anxiously, not to see whether he drives a straight 
furrow, but to mark the exact point on his leg to which the 
skirt of his silken robe reaches ; for on that is supposed to 
hang the state of the weather and the crops during the 
ensuing season. If the Lord of the Heavenly Hosts hitches 

1 Aeneas Sylvius, Of era (Bale, The Carinthian ceremony is the subject 

1571), pp. 409 sq.; J. Boemus, Mores, of an elaborate German dissertation by 

leges, et ritus omnium gentium (Lyons, Dr. Emil Goldmann i^Die Einfiihrung 

1541), pp. 7,\l sq.; J. Grimm, Deutsche der deutschen Herzogsgeschlechter Kdm- 

Rechtsalterthilmer, p. 253. According tens in den Slovenischen Stammesver- 

to Grimm, the cow and mare stood band, ein Beitrag zur Rechts- und 

beside the prince, not the peasant. Kulturgeschichte, Breslau, 1903). 



Up his garment above his knee, the weather will be wet 
and heavy rains will spoil the harvest. If he lets it trail 
to his ankle, a drought will be the consequence. But fine 
weather and heavy crops will follow if the hem of his robe 
hangs exactly half-way down the calf of his leg.^ So closely 
is the course of nature, and with it the weal or woe of the 
people, dependent on the minutest act or gesture of the 
king's representative. But the task of making the crops 
grow, thus deputed to the temporary kings, is one of the 
magical functions regularly supposed to be discharged by 
kings in primitive society. The rule that the mock king 
must stand on one foot upon a raised seat in the rice-field 
was perhaps originally meant as a charm to make the crop 
grow high ; at least this was the object of a similar cere- 
mony observed by the old Prussians. The tallest girl, 
standing on one foot upon a seat, with her lap full of cakes, 
a cup of brandy in her right hand and a piece of elm-bark 
or linden-bark in her left, prayed to the god Waizganthos 
that the flax might grow as high as she was standing. 
Then, after draining the cup, she had it refilled, and poured 
the brandy on the ground as an offering to Waizganthos, 
and threw down the cakes for his attendant sprites. If 
she remained steady on one foot throughout the ceremony, 
it was an omen that the flax crop would be good ; but 
if she let her foot down, it was feared that the crop might 
fail.^ The same significance perhaps attaches to the swing- 
ing of the Brahmans, which the Lord of the Heavenly 
Hosts had formerly to witness standing on one foot. On 
the principles of homoeopathic or imitative magic it might 

^ E. Young, The Kingdom of the Fiji, the grave-digger who turns the 

Yellow Robe, p. 2 1 1 . first sod has to stand on one leg, lean- 

^ Lasicius, " De diis Samagitarum ing on his digging-stick (Rev. Lorimer 

caeterorumque Sarmatarum," in Res- Fison, in a letter to the author, dated 

fublica sive status regni Poloniae, August 26, 1898). Among the Angoni 

Lituaniae, Prussiae, Livoniae, etc. of British Central Africa, when the 

(Elzevir, 1627), pp. 306 sq.; id., edited corpse of a chief is being burned, his 

by W. Mannhardt in Magazin heraus- heir stands beside the blazing pyre on 

gegeben von der Lettisch-Literdrischen one leg with his shield in his hand ; and 

Gesellschaft, xiv. 91 sq.; J. G. Kohl, three days later he again stands on one 

Die deutsch-russischen Ostseeprovinzen leg before the assembled people when 

(Dresden and Leipsic, 1841), ii. 27. they proclaim him chief. SeeR. Suther- 

There, are, however, other occasions \a.-ai'R.3Xtt3.y,Some Folk-lore Stories and 

when superstition requires a person to Songs in Chinyanja (London, 1907), 

stand on one foot. At Toku-toku, in pp. 100, 101. 


be thought that the higher the priests swing the higher will 
grow the rice. For the ceremony is described as a harvest 
festival,^ and swinging is practised by the Letts of Russia 
with the avowed intention of influencing the growth of the 
crops. In the spring and early summer, between Easter 
and St. John's Day (the summer solstice), every Lettish 
peasant is said to devote his leisure hours to swinging 
diligently ; for the higher he rises in the air the higher will 
his flax grow that season.^ The gilded plough with which 
the Siamese mock king opens the ploughing may be com- 
pared with the bronze ploughs which the Etruscans employed 
at the ceremony of founding cities ; ^ in both cases the use of 
bare iron was probably forbidden on superstitious grounds.* 

In the foregoing cases the temporary king is appointed Temporary 
annually in accordance with a regular custom. But in other stuuted'in 
cases the appointment is made only to meet a special certain 
emergency, such as to relieve the real king from some actual c^s for°' 
or threatened evil by diverting it to a substitute, who takes Shahs of 


his place on the throne for a short time. The history of Persia 
furnishes instances of such occasional substitutes for the Shah. 
Thus Shah Abbas the Great, the most eminent of all the 
kings of Persia, who reigned from 1586 to 1628 A.D., being 
warned by his astrologers in the year 1591 that a serious 
danger impended over him, attempted to avert the omen 
by abdicating the throne and appointing a certain unbeliever 
named Yusoofee, probably a Christian, to reign in his stead. 
The substitute was accordingly crowned, and for three days, 
if we may trust the Persian historians, he enjoyed not only 
the name and the state but the power of the king. At the 
end of his brief reign he was put to death : the decree of 
the stars was fulfilled by this sacrifice ; and Abbas, who 
reascended his throne in a most propitious hour, was 
promised by his astrologers a long and glorious reign.* 

1 E. Young, The Kingdom of the and the Evolution of Kings, i. \T,t)Sqq. 
Yellow Robe, p. 212. ' Macrobius, Saturn, v. 19. 13. 

2 J. G. Kohl, Die deutsch-russischen * See Taioo and the Perils of the 
Ostseeprominzen, ii. 25. With regard to Soul, pp. 225 sqq. 

swinging as a magical or religious rite, * Sir John Malcolm, History of 

see Note B at the end of the volume. Persia (London, 1815), i. 527 sq. I 

For other charms to make the crops am indebted to my friend Mr. W. 

growtall by leaping, lettingthehair hang Crooke for calling my attention to this 

loose, and so forth, see The Magic Art passage. 


Again, Shah Sufi II., who reigned from 1668 to 1694 A.D., 
was crowned a second time and changed his name to 
Sulaiman or Soliman under the following circumstances : 
" The King, a few days after, was out of danger, but the 
matter was to restore him to perfect health. Having been 
always in a languishing condition, and his physicians never 
able to discover the cause of his distemper, he suspected 
that their ignorance retarded his recovery, and two or three 
of them were therefore ill treated. At length the other 
physicians, fearing it might be their own turn next, bethought 
themselves, that Persia being at the same time afflicted with 
a scarcity of provisions and the King's sickness, the fault 
must be in the astrologers, who had not chosen a favourable 
hour when the King was set upon the throne, and therefore 
persuaded him that the ceremony must be perform'd again, 
and he change his name in a more lucky minute. The 
King and his council approving of their notion, the physicians 
and astrologers together expected the first unfortunate day, 
which, according to their superstition, was to be followed in 
the evening by a propitious hour. Among the Gavres, or 
original Persians, Worshippers of Fire, there are some who 
boast their descent from the Rustans, who formerly reigned 
over Persia and Parthia. On the morning of the aforesaid 
unlucky day, they took one of these Gavres of that Blood- 
royal, and having plac'd him on the throne, with his back 
against a figure that represented him to the life, all the 
great men of the court came to attend him, as if he had 
been their king, performing all that he commanded. This 
scene lasted till the favourable hour, which was a little 
before sun-setting, and then an officer of the court came 
behind and cut off the head of the wooden statue with his 
cymiter, the Gaure then starting up and running away. 
That very moment the King came into the hall, and the 
Sofy's cap being set on his head, and his sword girt to 
his side, he sat down on the throne, changing his name 
for that of Soliman, which was perform'd with the usual 
ceremonies, the drums beating and trumpets sounding as 
before. It was requisite to act this farce, in order to satisfy 
the law, which requires that in order to change his name 
and take possession of the throne again he must expel a 



prince that had usurped it upon some pretensions ; and 
therefore they made choice of a Gaure, who pretended to 
be descended from the ancient kings of Persia, and was 
besides of a different religion from that of the government." ^ 

1 Captain John Stevens, 7',4«Z?i'rforj/ 
of Persia (London, 1715), pp. 356 sq. 
I have to thank Mr. W. Crooke for 
his kindness in copying out this passage 
and sending it to me. I have not seen 
the original. An Irish legend relates 
how the abbot Eimine Ban and forty- 
nine of his monks sacrificed themselves 
by a voluntary death to save Bran lia 
Faeliin, King of Leinster, and forty- 
nine Leinster chiefs, from a pestilence 
Wfhich was then desolating Leinster. 

They were sacrificed in batches of seven 
a day for a week, the abbot himself 
perishing after the last batch on the 
last day of the week. But it is not 
said that the abbot enjoyed regal 
dignity during the seven days. See 
C. Plummer, "Cdin Eimfne B^in, 
Eriu, the Journal of the School of Irish 
Learning, Dublin, vol. iv. part i. 
(1908) pp. 39-46. The legend was 
pointed out to me by Professor Kuno 




kings are 
related by 
blood to 
the real 

of On, 
King of 
and the 
sacrifice of 
his nine 

A POINT to notice about the temporary kings described in the 
foregoing chapter is that in two places (Cambodia and Jambi) 
they come of a stock which is beheved to be akin to the royal 
family. If the view here taken of the origin of these tem- 
porary kingships is correct, we can easily understand why 
the king's substitute should sometimes be of the same race 
as the king. When the king first succeeded in getting the 
life of another accepted as a sacrifice instead of his own, he 
would have to shew that the death of that other would 
serve the purpose quite as well as his own would have done. 
Now it was as a god or demigod that the king had to die ; 
therefore the substitute who died for him had to be invested, at 
least for the occasion, with the divine attributes of the king. 
This, as we have just seen, was certainly the case with the 
temporary kings of Siam and Cambodia ; they were in- 
vested with the supernatural functions, which in an earlier 
stage of society were the special attributes of the king. 
But no one could so well represent the king in his divine 
character as his son, who might be supposed to share the 
divine afflatus of his father. No one, therefore, could so 
appropriately die for the king and, through him, for the 
whole people, as the king's son. 

According to tradition, Aun or On, King of Sweden, 
sacrificed nine of his sons to Odin at Upsala in order that 
his own life might be spared. After he had sacrificed his 
second son he received from the god an answer that he 
should live so long as he gave him one of his sons every 
ninth year. When he had sacrificed his seventh son, he still 



lived, but was so feeble that he could not walk but had to 
be carried in a chair. Then he offered up his eighth son, 
and lived nine years more, lying in his bed. After that he 
sacrificed his ninth son, and lived another nine years, but so 
that he drank out of a horn like a weaned child. He now 
wished to sacrifice his only remaining son to Odin, but the 
Swedes would not allow him. So he died and was buried 
in a mound at Upsala. The poet Thiodolf told the king's 
history in verse : — 

" In UpsaVs town the cruel king 
Slaughtered his sons at Odin's shrine — 
Slaughtered his sons with cruel knife. 
To get from Odin length of life. 
He lived until he had to turn 
His toothless mouth to the deer's hornj 
And he who shed his children's blood 
Sucked through the ox's horn his food. 
At length fell Death has tracked him down., 
Slowly but sure, in UpsaPs town." l 

In ancient Greece there seems to have been at least Tradition 
one kingly house of great antiquity of which the eldest sons Athama' 
were always liable to be sacrificed in room of their royal and his 
sires. When Xerxes was marching through Thessaly at 
the head of his mighty host to attack the Spartans at 
Thermopylae, he came to the town of Alus. Here he was 
shewn the sanctuary of Laphystian Zeus, about which his 
guides told him a strange tale. It ran somewhat as follows. 
Once upon a time the king of the country, by name 
Athamas, married a wife Nephele, and had by her a son 
called Phrixus and a daughter named Helle. Afterwards 
he took to himself a second wife called Ino, by whom he 
had two sons, Learchus and Melicertes. But his second 
wife was jealous of her step-children, Phrixus and Helle, and 
plotted their death. She went about very cunningly to 
compass her bad end. First of all she persuaded the women 
of the country to roast the seed corn secretly before it was 
committed to the ground. So next year no crops came 

1 "Ynglinga Saga," 29, in The Chadv/ick, TAe Culi of OtMn (London, 

Heimskringla or Chronicle of the Kings 1899), pp. 4, 27. I have already 

of Norway, translated from the Ice- cited the tradition as evidence of a 

landic of Snorro Sturleson, hy S. Lz-vng nine years' tenure of the Idngship in 

(London, 1844), i. 239 sq. ; H. M. Sweden. See above, p. 57, with note 2. 

PT. Ill M 

. his 


up and the people died of famine. Then the king sent 
messengers to the oracle at Delphi to enquire the cause 
of the dearth. But the wicked step -mother bribed the 
messenger to give out as the answer of the god that the 
dearth would never cease till the children of Athamas by 
his first wife had been sacrificed to Zeus. When Athamas 
heard that, he sent for the children, who were with the 
sheep. But a ram with a fleece of gold opened his lips, and 
speaking with the voice of a man warned the children ot 
their danger. So they mounted the ram and fled with him 
over land and sea. As they flew over the sea, the girl 
slipped from the animal's back, and falling into water was 
drowned. But her brother Phrixus was brought safe to the 
land of Colchis, where reigned a child of the Sun. Phrixus 
married the king's daughter, and she bore him a son 
Cytisorus. And there he sacrificed the ram with the golden 
fleece to Zeus the God of Flight ; but some will have it that 
he sacrificed the, animal to Laphystian Zeus. The golden 
fleece itself he gave to his wife's father, who nailed it to an 
oak tree, guarded by a sleepless dragon in a sacred grove of 
Ares. Meanwhile at home an oracle had commanded that 
King Athamas himself should be sacrificed as an expiatory 
offering for the whole country. So the people decked him 
with garlands like a victim and led him to the altar, where 
they were just about to sacrifice him when he was rescued 
either by his grandson Cytisorus, who arrived in the nick of 
time from Colchis, or by Hercules, who brought tidings that 
the king's son Phrixus was yet alive. Thus Athamas was 
saved, but afterwards he went mad, and mistaking his son 
Learchus for a wild beast shot him dead. Next he attempted 
the life of his remaining son Melicertes, but the child was 
rescued by his mother Ino, who ran and threw herself and 
him from a high rock into the sea. Mother and son were 
changed into marine divinities, and the son received special 
homage in the isle of Tenedos, where babes were sacrificed 
to him. Thus bereft of wife and children the unhappy 
Athamas quitted his country, and on enquiring of the oracle 
where he should dwell was told to take up his abode wherever 
he should be entertained by wild beasts. He fell in with a 
pack of wolves devouring sheep, and when they saw him they 


fled and left him the bleeding remnants of their prey. In 
this way the oracle was fulfilled. But because King Athamas Male de- 
had not been sacrificed as a sin-offering for the whole country, of^^tng'^ 
it was divinely decreed that the eldest male scion of his Athamas 
family in each generation should be sacrificed without fail, sacrificed. * 
if ever he set foot in the town-hall, where the offerings were 
made to Laphystian Zeus by one of the house of Athamas. 
Many of the family, Xerxes was informed, had fled to foreign 
lands to escape this doom ; but some of them had returned 
long afterwards, and being caught by the sentinels in the 
act of entering the town-hall were wreathed as victims, led 
forth in procession, and sacrificed.-' These instances appear 
to have been notorious, if not frequent ; for the writer of a 
dialogue attributed to Plato, after speaking of the immolation 
of human victims by the Carthaginians, adds that such 
practices were not unknown among the Greeks, and he refers 
with horror to the sacrifices offered on Mount Lycaeus and 
by the descendants of Athamas.^ 

The suspicion that this barbarous custom by no means Family of 
fell into disuse even in later days is strengthened by a case ^^cent 
of human sacrifice which occurred in Plutarch's time at liable to be 
Orchomenus, a very ancient city of Boeotia, distant only a ^t Orcho- 
few miles across the plain from the historian's birthplace, menus. 
Here dwelt a family of which the men went by the name of 
Psoloeis or " Sooty," and the women by the name of Oleae 
or " Destructive." Every year at the festival of the Agrionia 
the priest of Dionysus pursued these women with a drawn 
sword, and if he overtook one of them he had the right 
to slay her. In Plutarch's lifetime the right was actually 
exercised by a priest Zoilus. Now the family thus liable 
to furnish at least one human victim every year was of 

1 Herodotus, vii. 197 ; Apollodorus, writers with some variations of detail, 

i. 9. 1.f?.; Schol.onAristophanes,C/o«(&, In piecing their accounts together I 

257 ; J. Tzetzes, Schol. on Lycophron, have chosen the features which seemed 

21,229; Schol. on ApoUonius Rhodius, to be the most archaic. According to 

Argonautica, ii. 653 ; Eustathius, on Pherecydes, one of the oldest writers 

Homer, Iliad, vii. 86, p. 667; id., on on Greek legendary history, Phrixus 

Odyssey, v. 339, p. 1543; Pausanias, offered himself as a voluntary victim 

i. 44. 7, ix. 34. 7 ; Zenobius, iv. 38 ; when the crops were perishing (Schol. 

Plutarch, De superstitiotie, 5 ; Hyginus, on Pindar, Pyth. iv. 288). On the 

Fab. 1-5; id., Astronomica, ii. 20; whole subject see K. O. Miiller, Ori:^«- 

Servius, on Virgil, Aen. v. 241. The menus und die Minyer? -p^. 156, 171. 
story is told or alluded to by these ^ Plato, Minos, p. 315 c. 


royal descent, for they traced their Hneage to Minyas, the 
famous old king of Orchomenus, the monarch of fabulous 
wealth, whose stately treasury, as it is called, still stands in 
ruins at the point where the long rocky hill of Orchomenus 
melts into the vast level expanse of the Copaic plain. 
Tradition ran that the king's three daughters long despised 
the other women of the country for yielding to the Bacchic 
frenzy, and sat at home in the king's house scornfully plying 
the distaff and the loom, while the rest, wreathed with 
flowers, their dishevelled locks streaming to the wind, roamed 
in ecstasy the barren mountains that rise above Orchomenus, 
making the solitude of the hills to echo to the wild music 
of cymbals and tambourines. But in time the divine fury 
infected even the royal damsels in their quiet chamber ; 
they were seized with a fierce longing to partake of human 
flesh, and cast lots among themselves which should give up 
her child to furnish a cannibal feast. The lot fell on 
Leucippe, and she surrendered her son Hippasus, who was 
torn limb from limb by the three. From these misguided 
women sprang the Oleae and the Psoloeis, of whom the 
men were said to be so called because they wore sad- 
coloured raiment in token of their mourning and grief.^ 
Thessaiian Now this practice of taking human victims from a 
Talfidngs' fainily of royal descent at Orchomenus is all the more 
seem to significant because Athamas himself is said to have 
ficed thek reigned in the land of Orchomenus even before the time of 
sons to Minyas, and because over against the city there rises 
Zeus S-'™ Mount Laphystius, on which, as at Alus in Thessaly, there 
stead of ^^s a sanctuary of Laphystian Zeus, where, according to 


' tradition, Athamas purposed to sacrifice his two children 
Phrixus and Helle.^ On the whole, comparing the tradi- 
tions about Athamas with the custom that obtained with 
regard to his descendants in historical times, we may fairly 
infer that in Thessaly and probably in Boeotia there 
reigned of old a dynasty of which the kings were liable 

' Plutarch, Quaest. Graec. 38; sq.; Hellanicus, cited by the Scholiast 
Antoninus Liberalis, Transform. 10; on ApoUonius, /.c. Apollodorus speaks. 
Ovid, Metam. iv. I sqq. of Athamas as reigning over Boeotia 

(Bibliotheca,\. 9. i) ; Tzetzes calls him 

2 Pausanias, ix. 34. 5 sqq. ; Apol- king of Thebes (Schol. on Lycophron^ 
lonius Rhodius, Argonautica, iii. 265 21). 


to be sacrificed for the good of the country to the god 
called Laphystian Zeus, but that they contrived to shift the 
fatal responsibility to their offspring, of v/hom the eldest 
son was regularly destined to the altar. As time went 
on, the cruel custom was so far mitigated that a ram 
was accepted as a vicarious sacrifice in room of the royal 
victim, provided always that the prince abstained from 
setting foot in the town-hall where the sacrifices were offered 
to Laphystian Zeus by one of his kinsmen.^ But if he 
were rash enough to enter the place of doom, to thrust 
himself wilfully, as it were, on the notice of the god who 
had good-naturedly winked at the substitution of a ram, 
the ancient obligation which had been suffered to lie in 
abeyance recovered all its force, and there was no help for 
it but ihe must die. The tradition which associated the 
sacrifice of the king or his children with a great dearth 
points clearly to the belief, so common among primitive 
folk, that the king is responsible for the weather and the 
crops, and that he may justly pay with his life for the in- 
clemency of the one or the failure of the other. Athamas and 
his line, in short, appear to have united divine or magical 
with royal functions ; and this view is strongly supported 
by the claims to divinity which Salmoneus, the brother of 
Athamas, is said to have set up. We have seen that this 
presumptuous mortal professed to be no other than Zeus 
himself, and to wield the thunder and lightning, of which he 
made a trumpery imitation by the help of tinkling kettles 
and blazing torches.^ If we may judge from analogy, his 
mock thunder and lightning were no mere scenic exhibition 
designed to deceive and impress the beholders ; they were 

' The old Scholiast on Apollonius stances lay only on the eldest male of 

Rhodius {Argon, ii. 653) tells us that each generation in the direct line ; 

down to his time it was customary for the sacrificers may have been younger 

one of the descendants of Athamas to brothers or more remote relations of 

enter the town-hall and sacrifice to the destined victims. It may be 

Laphystian Zeus. K. O. Miiller sees in observed that in a dynasty of which the 

this custom a mitigation of the ancient eldest males were regularly sacrificed, 

rule — instead of being themselves sacri- the kings, if they were not themselves 

ficed, the scions of royalty were now the victims, must always have been 

permitted to offer sacrifice ( Orchomenus younger sons. 
tmd die Minyer,^ p. 158). But this 

need not have been so. The obligation ^ See The Magic Art and the Evolu- 

to serve as victims in certain circum- tion of Kings, vol. i. p. 310. 


enchantments practised by the royal magician for the 
purpose of bringing about the celestial phenomena which 
they feebly mimicked.^ 
Sacrifice of Among the Semites of Western Asia the king, in a time 
amSgThe °f national danger, sometimes gave his own son to die as a 
Semites, sacrifice for the people. Thus Philo of Byblus, in his work 
on the Jews, says : " It was an ancient custom in a crisis of 
great danger that the ruler of a city or nation should give 
his beloved son to die for the whole people, as a ransom 
offered to the avenging demons ; and the children thus 
offered were slain with mystic rites. So Cronus, whom the 
Phoenicians call Israel, being king of the land and having 
an only-begotten son called Jeoud (for in the Phoenician 
tongue Jeoud signifies ' only-begotten '), dressed him in royal 
robes and sacrificed him upon an altar in a time of war, 
when the country was in great danger from the enemy." ^ 
When the king of Moab was besieged by the Israelites and 
hard beset, he took his eldest son, who should have reigned in 
his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall.' 

But amongst the Semites the practice of sacrificing their 
children was not confined to kings.* In times of great 

1 I have followed K. O. Miiller man was annually sacrificed to Aphro- 

(Orchomenus und die Minyerp' ■^^. i6o, dite and afterwards to Diomede, but 

1 66 sq.) in regarding the ram which in later times an ox was substituted 

saved Phrixus as a mythical expression (Porphyry, De abstinentia, ii. 54). 

for the substitution of a ram for a At Laodicea in Syria a deer took the 

human victim. He points out that a place of a maiden as the victim yearly 

ram was the proper victim to sacrifice offered to Athena (Poiphyry, op. cit, 

to Trophonius (Fausanias, ix. 39. 6), ii. 56). Since human sacrifices have 

whose very ancient worship was prac- been forbidden by the Dutch Govern-' 

tised at Lebadea not far from Orcho- ment in Borneo, the Barito and other 

menus. The principle of vicarious Dyak tribes of that island have kept 

sacrifices was familiar enough to the cattle for the sole purpose of sacrificing 

Greeks, as K. O. MuUer does not fail them instead of human beings at the 

to indicate. At Potniae, near Thebes, close of mourning and at other religi- 

goats were substituted as victims instead ous ceremonies. See A. W. Nieuw- 

of boys in the sacrifices offered to enhuis, Quer durch Borneo, ii. 

Dionysus (Pausanias, ix. 8. 2). Once (Leyden, 1907), p. 127. 
when an oracle commanded that a girl ^ philo of Byblus, quoted by Eu- 

should be sacrificed to Munychian sebius, Praeparatio Evangelii, i. 10. 

Artemis in order to stay a plague or 29 sq. 
famine, a goat dressed up as a girl ^ 2 Kings iii. 27. 

was sacrificed instead (Eustathius on ^ On this subject see Dr. G. F. 

Homer, Iliad, ii. 732, p. 331; Apos- Moore, s.v. " Molech, Moloch," En- 

tolius, vii. 10; Paroemiogr. Graed, ed. cyclopaedia Biblica, iii. 3183 .r^y.; C. P. 

Leutsch et Schneidewin, ii. 402; Suidas, Tiele, Geschichte der Religion im Alter- 

r.v.'E/i^apos). At Salamis in Cyprus a turn, i. (Gotha, 1896) pp. 240-244. 


calamity, such as pestilence, drought, or defeat in war, the sacrifice of 
Phoenicians used to sacrifice one of their dearest to Baal. ^ "'?'''=" *° 
" Phoenician history," says an ancient writer, " is full of such among the 
sacrifices."^ The writer of a dialogue ascribed to Plato ^^""''^^• 
observes that the Carthaginians immolated human beings as 
if it were right and lawful to do so, and some of them, he 
adds, even sacrificed their own sons to Baal.^ When Gelo, 
tyrant of Syracuse, defeated the Carthaginians in the great 
battle of Himera he required as a condition of peace that 
they should sacrifice their children to Baal no longer.^ But 
the barbarous custom was too inveterate and too agreeable 
to Semitic modes of thought to be so easily eradicated, and 
the humane stipulation of the Greek despot probably remained 
a dead letter. At all events the history of this remarkable 
people, who combined in so high a degree the spirit of com- 
mercial enterprise with a blind attachment to a stern and 
gloomy religion, is stained in later times with instances of 
the same cruel superstition. When the Carthaginians were 
defeated and besieged by Agathocles, they ascribed their 
disasters to the wrath of Baal ; for whereas in former times 
they had been wont to sacrifice to him their own offspring, 
they had latterly fallen into the habit of buying children and 
rearing them to be victims. So, to appease the angry god, 
two hundred children of the noblest families were picked out 
for sacrifice, and the tale of victims was swelled by not less 
than three hundred more who volunteered to die for the 
fatherland. They were sacrificed by being placed, one by 
one, on the sloping hands of the brazen image, from which 
they rolled into a pit of fire.* Childless people among 
the Carthaginians bought children from poor parents and 
slaughtered them, says Plutarch, as if they were lambs or 
chickens ; and the mother had to stand by and see it done 
without a tear or a groan, for if she wept or moaned she 
lost all the credit and the child was sacrificed none the less. 
But all the place in front of the image was filled with a 
tumultuous music of fifes and drums to drown the shrieks 

1 Vox-phyxy, De abstinentia, \i. 56. Clitarchus, cited by Suidas,J.i'.(ro/35(ii'ios 

2 Plato, Minos, p. 315 c. yi'Kus, and by the Scholiast on Plato, 

3 Plutarch, Regum et imperatorum Republic, p. 337 A ; J. Selden, De 
apophtheginaia, Gelon I. dis Syris (Leipsic, 1668), pp. 169 

* Diodoi-usSicuIus, XX. 14. Compare sq. 



and Heb- 
rew custom 

honour of 
Baal or 

of the victims.^ Infants were publicly sacrificed by the 
Carthaginians down to the proconsulate of Tiberius, who 
crucified the priests on the trees beside their temples. 
Yet the practice still went on secretly in the lifetime 
of Tertullian.^ 

Among the Canaanites or aboriginal inhabitants of 
Palestine, whom the invading Israelites conquered but did 
of burning not exterminate, the grisly custom of burning their children 
in honour of Baal or Moloch seems to have been regularly 
practised.^ To the best representatives of the Hebrew 
people, the authors of their noble literature, such rites were 
abhorrent, and they warned their fellow-countrymen against 
participating in them. " When thou art come into the land 
which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to 
do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not 
be found with thee any one that maketh his son or his 
daughter to pass through the fire, one that useth divination, 
one that practiseth augury, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, or 
a charmer, or a consulter with a familiar spirit, or a wizard, 
or a necromancer. For whosoever doeth these things is an 
abomination unto the Lord : and because of these abomina- 
tions the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before 
thee." * Again we read : " And thou shalt not give any of 
thy seed to pass through the fire to Molech." ^ Whatever 
effect these warnings may have had in the earlier days of 
Israelitish history, there is abundant evidence that in later 
times the Hebrews lapsed, or rather perhaps relapsed, into 
that congenial mire of superstition from which the higher 
spirits of the nation struggled — too often in vain — to rescue 
them. The Psalmist laments that his erring countrymen 
" mingled themselves with the nations, and learned their 
works : and they served their idols ; which became a snare 

1 Plutarch, De superstitione, 13. civitate Dei, Vn. 19 and 26. 
Egyptian mothers were glad and proud s « Every abomination to the Lord, 

when their children were devoured by 
the holy crocodiles. See Aelian, De 
natura animalium, x. 21 ; Maximus 
Tyrius, Dissert, viii. 5 ; Josephus, 
Contra Apion. ii. 7. 

^ Tertullian, Afologeticus, 6. Com- 
pare Justin, xviii. 6. 1 2 ; Ennius, cited 
by Festus, s.v. " Puelli," pp. 248, 249, 
ed. C. O. MUller ; Augustine, De 

which he hateth, have they done unto 
their gods ; for even their sons and 
their daughters do they burn in the fire 
to their gods," Deuteronomy xii. 31. 
Here and in what follows I quote the 
Revised English Version. 

* Deuteronomy xviii. 9-12. 

'' Leviticus xviii. 21. 


unto them : yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters 
unto demons, and shed innocent blood, even the blood of 
their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto 
the idols of Canaan ; and the land was polluted with blood."^ 
When the Hebrew annalist has recorded how Shalmaneser, 
king of Assyria, besieged Samaria for three years and took 
it and carried Israel away into captivity, he explains that 
this was a divine punishment inflicted on his people for 
having fallen in with the evil ways of the Canaanites. They 
had built high places in all their cities, and set up pillars and 
sacred poles iasheriin) upon every high hill and under every 
green tree ; and there they burnt incense after the manner 
of the heathen. " And they forsook all the commandments 
of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even 
two calves, and made an Asherah, and worshipped all the 
host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their 
sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used 
divination and enchantments."^ At Jerusalem in these Sacrifices 
days there was a regularly appointed place where parents ?[ Toph™ 
burned their children, both boys and girls, in honour of Baal 
or Moloch. It was in the valley of Hinnom, just outside 
the walls of the city, and bore the name, infamous ever_ 
since, of Tophet. The practice is referred to again and 
again with sorrowful indignation by the prophets.^ The 
kings of Judah set an example to their people by burning 
their own children at the usual place. Thus of Ahaz, who 
reigned sixteen years at Jerusalem, we are told that " he 
burnt incense in the valley of Hinnom, and burnt his children 

' Psalms cvi. 35-38. whom thou hast borne unto me, and 

2 2 Kings xvii. 16, 17. these hast thou sacrificed unto them to 

3 "And they have built the high be devoured. Were thy whoredoms 
places of Topheth, which is in the a small matter, that thou hast slain 
valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn my children, and delivered them up, 
their sons and their daughters in the in causing them to pass through the 
fire," Jeremiah vii. 31; "And have fire unto them ?" Ezekiel xvi. 20 sq.; 
built the high places of Baal, to bum compare xx. 26, 31. A comparison of 
their sons in the fire for burnt offerings these passages shews that the expression 
unto Baal," id. xix. 5 ; "And they "to cause to pass through the fire," so 
built the high places of Baal, which are often employed in this connexion in 
in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to Scripture, meant to burn the children 
cause their sons and their daughters to in the fire. Some have attempted to 
pass through the fire unto Molech," interpret the words in a milder sense. 
id. xxxii. 35; " Moreover thou hast See]. S-pencit, Be legibus ffebraeorum 
taken thy sons and thy daughters, (The Hague, 1686), i. 288 sgq. 


in the fire." ' Again, King Manasseh, whose long reign 

covered fifty-five years, " made his children to pass through 

the fire in the valley of Hinnom." ^ Afterwards in the reign 

of the good king Josiah the idolatrous excesses of the people 

were repressed, at least for a time, and among other measures 

of reform Tophet was defiled by the King's orders, " that no 

man might make his son or his daughter to pass through 

the fire to Molech."^ Whether the place was ever used 

again for the same dark purpose as before does not appear. 

Long afterwards, under the sway of a milder faith, there was 

little in the valley to recall the tragic scenes which it had 

so often witnessed. Jerome describes it as a pleasant and 

shady spot, watered by the rills of Siloam and laid out in 

delightful gardens.* 

Did the It would be interesting, though it might be fruitless, to 

borrot^the enquire how far the Hebrew prophets and psalmists were 

custom right in their opinion that the Israelites learned these and 

Canaan- Other gloomy superstitions only through contact with the old 

ites? inhabitants of the land, that the primitive purity of faith and 

morals which they brought with them from the free air of 

the desert was tainted and polluted by the grossness and 

.corruption of the heathen in the fat land of Canaan. 

When we remember, however, that the Israelites were of 

the same Semitic stock as the population they conquered 

and professed to despise,^ and that the practice of human 

sacrifice is attested for many branches of the Semitic race, 

we shall, perhaps, incline to surmise that the chosen people 

may have brought with them into Palestine the seeds 

which afterwards sprang up and bore such ghastly fruit in 

Custom of the valley of Hinnom. It is at least significant of the 

vites.^'' ^^' prevalence of such customs among the Semites that no 

sooner were the native child - burning Israelites carried 

off by King Shalmaneser to Assyria than their place was 

1 2 Chronicles xxviii. 3. In the worterbuch,'^ s.v. "Thopeth.'' 
corresponding passage of 2 Kings (xvi. ^ xhe Tel El-Amarna tablets prove 
3) it is said that Ahaz "made his son that "the prae-Israelitish inhabitants 
to pass through the fire." of Canaan were closely akin to the 

2 2 Chronicles xxxiii. 6 ; compare Hebrews, and that they spoke sub- 
2 Kings xxi. 6. stantially the same language " (S. R. 

^ 2 Kings xxiii. 10. Driver, in Authority and Archaeology, 

* Jerome on Jeremiah vii. 31, Sacred and Profane, edited by D. G. 
quoted in Winer's Biblisches Real- Hogarth (London, 1899), p. 76). 


taken by colonists who practised precisely the same rites 
in honour of deities who probably differed in little but 
name from those revered by the idolatrous Hebrews. 
" The Sepharvites," we are told, " burnt their children in 
the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of 
Sepharvaim." ^ The pious Jewish historian, who saw in 
Israel's exile God's punishment for sin, has suggested no 
explanation of that mystery in the divine economy which 
suffered the Sepharvites to continue on the same spot the 
very same abominations for which the erring Hebrews had 
just been so signally chastised. 

We have still to ask which of their children the Semites Only the 
picked out for sacrifice ; for that a choice was made and ^^^ 
some principle of selection followed, may be taken for granted, were 
A people who burned all their children indiscriminately would "™^ ' 
soon extinguish themselves, and such an excess of piety is 
probably rare, if not unknown. In point of fact it seems, at 
lea,gt among the Hebrews, to have been only the firstborn 
child that was doomed to the flames. The prophet Micah 
asks, in a familiar passage, " Wherewith shall I come before 
the Lord, and bow myself before the high God ? shall I come 
before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old ? 
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with 
ten thousands of rivers of oil ? shall I give my firstborn for 
my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my 
soul ? " These were the questions which pious and doubting 
hearts were putting to themselves in the days of the prophet. 
The prophet's own answer is not doubtful. " He hath shewed 
thee, O man, what is good ; and what doth the Lord require 
of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk 
humbly with thy God ? " ^ It is a noble answer and one 
which only elect spirits in that or, perhaps, in any age have 
given. In Israel the vulgar answer was given on bloody 
altars and in the smoke and flames of Tophet, and the form 
in which the prophet's question is cast — " Shall I give my 
firstborn for my transgression ? " — shews plainly on which 
of the children the duty of atoning for the sins of their 
father was supposed to fall. A passage in Ezekiel points 

1 2 Kings xvii. 31. The identifi- See Encyclopaedia Biblica, \v. ^^i^i sq. 
cation of Sepharvaim is uncertain. ^ Micah vi. 6-8. 


no less clearly to the same conclusion. The prophet 
represents God as saying, " I gave them statutes that were 
not good, and judgments wherein they should not live ; and 
I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to 
pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might 
make them desolate." That the writer was here thinking 
specially of the sacrifice of children is proved by his own 
words a little later on. " When ye offer your gifts, when ye 
make your sons to pass through the fire, do ye pollute your- 
selves with all your idols, imto this day ? " ^ Further, that 
by the words " to pass through the fire all that openeth the 
womb " he referred only to the firstborn can easily be shewn 
by the language of Scripture in reference to that law of the 
consecration of firstlings which Ezekiel undoubtedly had in 
his mind when he wrote this passage. Thus we find that 
law enunciated in the following terms : " And the Lord spake 
unto Moses, saying, Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, what- 
soever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both 
of man and of beast : it is mine." ^ Again, it is written : 
"Thou shalt set apart unto the Lord all that openeth the 
womb, and every firstling which thou hast that cometh of a 
beast ; the males shall be the Lord's." ^ Once more : " All 
that openeth the womb is mine ; and all thy cattle that is 
male, the firstlings of ox and sheep." * This ancient Hebrew 
custom of the consecration to God of all male firstlings, 
whether of man or beast, was merely the application to the 
animal kingdom of the law that all first fruits whatsoever 
belong to the deity and must be made over to him or his 
representatives. That general law is thus stated by the 
Hebrew legislator : " Thou .shalt not delay to offer of the 
abundance of thy fruits, and of thy liquors. The firstborn of 
thy sons shalt thou give unto me. Likewise shalt thou do 
with thine oxen, and with thy sheep : seven days it shall be 
with its dam ; and on the eighth day thou shalt give it me."^ 
Thus the god of the Hebrews plainly regarded the first- 

' Ezekiel xx. 25, 26, 31. every firstling among thy cattle, whether 

2 Exodus xiii. 1 sq. ox or sheep, that is male." 

3 Exodus xiii. 12 * Exodus xxii. 29 sq. The Author- 
' Exodus xxxiv. 19. In the Author- ised Version has " the first of thy ripe 

ised Version the passage runs thus : "All fruits" instead of "the abundance of 
that openeth the matrix is mine ; and thy fruits." 



born of men and the firstlings of animals as his own, and Hebrew 
required that they should be made over to him. But how ? g'Jj^wj?^ 
Here a distinction was drawn between sheep, oxen, and redemption 
goats on the one hand and men and asses on the other ; the Jjngs^f "^^^ 
firstlings of the former were always sacrificed, the firstlings men and 
of the latter were generally redeemed. " The firstling of an 
ox, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, thou 
shalt not redeem ; they are holy : thou shalt sprinkle their 
blood upon the altar, and shalt burn their fat for an offering 
made by fire for a sweet savour unto the Lord." The flesh 
went to the Levites,^ who consumed it, no doubt, instead of 
the deity whom they represented. On the other hand, the 
ass was not sacrificed by the Israelites, probably because 
they did not eat the animal themselves, and hence concluded 
that God did not do so either. In the matter of diet the 
taste of gods generally presents a striking resemblance to 
that of their worshippers. Still the firstling ass, like all 
other firstlings, was sacred to the deity, and since it was not 
sacrificed to him, he had to receive an equivalent for it. In 
other words, the ass had to be redeemed, and the price of 
the redemption was a lamb which was burnt as a vicarious 
sacrifice instead of the ass, on the hypothesis, apparently, 
that roast lamb is likely to be more palatable to the Supreme 
Being than roast donkey. If the ass was not redeemed, it 
had to be killed by having its neck broken.^ The firstlings 
of other unclean animals and of men were redeemed for five 
shekels a head, which were paid to the Levites.^ 

We can now readily understand why so many of the Sacrifice of 
Hebrews, at least in the later days of their history, sacrificed ^hUdrT" 
their firstborn children, and why tender-hearted parents, perhaps 

1 Numbers xviii. 17 sj. Elsewhere, we must suppose that the flesh was 

however, we read : " All the firstling divided between the Levite and the 

males that are born of thy herd and of owner of the animal. But perhaps the 

thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto the rule in Deuteronomy may represent 

Lord thy God : thou shalt do no work the old custom which obtained before 

with the firstling of thine ox, nor shear the rise of the priestly caste. Prof, 

the firstling of thy flock. Thou shalt S. R. Driver inclines to the latter 

eat it before the Lord thy God year by view (Commentary on DeuUronomy, 

year in the place which the Lord shall p. 187). 

choose, thou and thy household," 2 Exodus xiii. 13, xxxiv. 20. 

Deuteronomy xv. 19 sq. Compare ^ Numbers xviii. 15 sq. Compare 

Deuteronomy xii. 6 sq., 17 sq. To Numbers iii. 46-51; Exodus xiii. 13, 

reconcile this ordinance with the other xxxiv. 20. 




regarded as whose affection for their offspring exceeded their devotion to 
heroic' °* the deity, may often have been visited w^ith compunction, 
virtue. and even tormented with feelings of bitter self-reproach and 
shame at their carnal weakness in suffering the beloved son 
to live, when they saw others, with an heroic piety which 
they could not emulate, calmly resigning their dear ones to 
the fire, through which, as they firmly believed, they passed 
to God, to reap, perhaps, in endless bliss in heaven the 
reward of their sharp but transient sufferings on earth. 
From infancy they had been bred up in the belief that the 
firstborn was sacred to God, and though they knew that he 
had waived his right to them in consideration of the receipt 
of five shekels a head, they could hardly view this as any- 
thing but an act of gracious condescension, of generous 
liberality on the part of the divinity who had stooped to 
accept so trifling a sum instead of the life which really 
belonged to him. " Surely," they might argue, " God would 
be better pleased if we were to give him not the money but 
the life, not the poor paltry shekels, but what we value most, 
our first and best-loved child. If we hold that life so dear, 
will not he also ? It is his. Why should we not give him 
his own ? " It was in answer to anxious questions such as 
these, and to quite truly conscientious scruples of this sort 
that the prophet Micah declared that what God required of 
his true worshippers was not sacrifice but justice and mercy 
and humility. It is the answer of morality to religion — of 
the growing consciousness that man's duty is not to pro- 
pitiate with vain oblations those mysterious powers of the 
universe of which he can know little or nothing, but to be 
just and merciful in his dealings with his fellows and to 
humbly trust, though he cannot know, that by acting thus 
he will best please the higher powers, whatever they may be. 
But while morality ranges itself on the side of the 
prophet, it may be questioned whether history and pre- 
cedent were not on the side of his adversaries. If the 
firstborn of men and cattle were alike sacred to God, 
and the firstborn of cattle were regularly sacrificed, while 
the firstborn of men were ransomed by a money pay- 
ment, has not this last provision the appearance of being 
a later mitigation of an older and harsher custom which 

of the 
origin of 
the Pass- 


doomed firstborn children, like firstling lambs and calves 
and goats, to the altar or the fire ? The suspicion is 
greatly strengthened by the remarkable tradition told to 
account for the sanctity of the firstborn. When Israel 
was in bondage in Egypt, so runs the tradition, God resolved 
to deliver them from captivity, and to lead them to the 
Promised Land. But the Egyptians were loth to part with 
their bondmen and thwarted the divine purpose by refusing 
to let the Israelites go. Accordingly God afflicted these 
cruel taskmasters with one plague after another, but all in 
vain, until at last he made up his mind to resort to a strong 
measure, which would surely have the desired effect. At 
dead of night he would pass through the land killing all the 
firstborn of the Egyptians, both man and beast ; not one of 
them would be left alive in the morning. But the Israelites 
were warned of what was about to happen and told to keep 
indoors that night, and to put a mark on their houses, so 
that when he passed down the street on his errand of 
slaughter, God might know them at sight from the houses of 
the Egyptians and not turn in and massacre the wrong 
children and animals. The mark was to be the blood of a 
lamb smeared on the lintel and side posts of the door. In 
every house the lamb, whose red blood was to be the badge 
of Israel that night, as the white scarves were the badge of 
the Catholics on the night of St. Bartholomew, was to be 
killed at evening and eaten by the household, with very 
peculiar rites, during the hours of darkness while the 
butchery was proceeding : none of the flesh was to see the 
morning light : whatever the family could not eat was to 
be burned with fire. All this was done. The massacre of 
Egyptian children and animals was successfully perpetrated 
and had the desired effect ; and to commemorate this great 
triumph God ordained that all the firstborn of man and 
beast among the Israelites should be sacred to him ever 
afterwards in the manner already described, the edible 
animals to be sacrificed, and the uneatable, especially men 
and asses, to be ransomed by a substitute or by a pecuniary 
payment of so much a head. And a festival was to be 
celebrated every spring with rites exactly like those which 
were observed on the night of the great slaughter. The 




the first- 
born child- 
ren seem to 
have been 
sacrificed : 
their re- 
was a later 
of the rule. 

divine command was obeyed, and the festival thus instituted 
was the Passover.^ 

The one thing that looms clear through the haze of this 
weird tradition is the memory of a great massacre of first- 
born. This was the origin, we are told, both of the sanctity 
of the firstborn and of the feast of the Passover. But when 
we are further told that the people whose firstborn were 
slaughtered on that occasion were not the Hebrews but their 
enemies, we are at once rriet by serious difficulties. Why, 
we may ask, should the Israelites kill the firstlings of their 
cattle for ever because God once killed those of the Egyptians ? 
and why should every Hebrew father have to pay God a 
ransom for his firstborn child because God once slew all the 
firstborn children of the Egyptians? In this form the 
tradition offers no intelligible explanation of the custom. 
But it at once becomes clear and intelligible when we 
assume that in the original version of the story it was the 
Hebrew firstborn that were slain ; that in fact the slaughter 
of the firstborn children was formerly, what the slaughter of 

1 Exodus xi. - xiii. 16; Numbers 
iii. 13, viii. 17. While many points in 
this stranire story remain obscure, the 
reason which moved the Israelites of 
old to splash the blood of lambs on the 
doorposts of their houses at the Pass- 
over may perhaps have been riot very 
different from that which induces the 
Sea Dyaks of Borneo to do much the 
same thing at the present day. ' ' When 
there is any great epidemic in the 
country — when cholera or smallpox is 
killing its hundreds on all sides — one 
often notices little offerings of food 
hung on the walls and from the ceil- 
ing, animals killed in sacrifice, and 
blood splashed on the posts of the 
houses. When one asks why all this 
is done, they say they do it in the hope 
that when the evil spirit, who is thirst- 
ing for human lives, comes along and 
sees the offerings they have made and 
the animals killed in sacrifice, he will 
be satisfied with these things, and not 
take the lives of any of the people 
living in the Dyak village house " 
(E. H. Gomes, Seventeen Years among 
the Sea Dyaks of Borneo, London, 191 1, 
p. 201). Similarly in Western Africa, 

when a pestilence or an attack of 
enemies is expected, it is customary to 
sacrifice sheep and goats and smear 
their blood on the gateways of the 
village (Miss Mary H. Kingsley, 
Travels in West Africa, p. 454, com- 
pare p. 45). In Peru, when an Indian 
hut is cleansed and whitewashed, the 
blood of a llama is always sprinkled on 
the doorway and internal walls in order 
to keep out the evil spirit (Col. Church, 
cited by E. J. Payne, History of the 
New World called America, i. 394, 
note'''). For more evidence of the 
custom of pouring or smearing blood 
on the threshold, lintel, and side-posts 
of doors, see Ph. Paulitschke, Ethno- 
graphie Nordost-Afrikas, die geistige 
Cultur der DanAkil, Galla und Somdl 
(Berlin, 1896), pp. 38, 48 ; J. Gold- 
ziher, Muhaniedanische Studlen, ii. 
329 ; S. J. Curtiss, Primitive Semitic 
Religion To-day, pp. 181-193, 227 
sq. ; H. C. Trumbull, The Threshold 
Covenant (New York, 1896), pp. 4 sq., 
8 sq., 26-28, 66-68. Perhaps the 
original intention of the custom was 
to avert evil influence, especially evil 
spirits, from the door. 


the firstborn cattle always continued to be, not an isolated 
butchery but a regular custom, which with the growth of 
more humane sentiments was afterwards softened into the 
vicarious sacrifice of a lamb and the payment of a ransom 
for each child. Here the reader may be reminded of another 
Hebrew tradition in which the sacrifice of the firstborn child 
is indicated still more clearly. Abraham, we are informed, 
was commanded by God to offer up his firstborn son Isaac 
as a burnt sacrifice, and was on the point of obeying the 
divine command, when God, content with this proof of his 
faith and obedience, substituted for the human victim a ram, 
which Abraham accordingly sacrificed instead of his son.^ 
Putting the two traditions together and observing how 
exactly they dovetail into each other and into the later 
Hebrew practice of actually sacrificing the firstborn children 
by fire to Baal or Moloch, we can hardly resist the conclusion 
that, before the practice of redeeming them was introduced, 
the Hebrews, like the other branches of the Semitic race, 
regularly sacrificed their firstborn children by the fire or the 
knife. The Passover, if this view is right, was the occasion 
when the awful sacrifice was offered ; and the tradition of 
its origin has preserved in its main outlines a vivid memory 
of the horrors of these fearful nights. They must have been 
like the nights called Evil on the west coast of Africa, when 
the people kept indoors, because the executioners were going 
about the streets and the heads of the human victims were 
falling in the king's palace.^ But seen in the lurid light of 
superstition or of legend they were no common mortals, no 
vulgar executioners, who did the dreadful work at the first 
Passover. The Angel of Death was abroad that night ; 
into every house he entered, and a sound of lamentation 
followed him as he came forth with his dripping sword. 
The blood that bespattered the lintel and door-posts would 
at first be the blood of the firstborn child of the house ; and 
when the blood of a lamb was afterwards substituted, we 
may suppose that it was intended not so much to appease 
as to cheat the ghastly visitant. Seeing the red drops in 

1 Genesis xxii. 1-13. 333 ; A. B. Ellis, The Yoruba-speaking 

'^ See for example Father Baudin, in Peoples of the Slave Coast, pp. 105 

Missions Catholiques, xvi. (1894) p. sq. 



the doorway he would say to himself, " That is the blood of 
their child. I need not turn in there. I have many yet to 
slay before the morning breaks grey in the east." And he 
would pass on in haste. And the trembling parents, as 
they clasped their little one to their breast, might fancy that 
they heard his footfalls growing fainter and fainter down the 
street. In plain words, we may surmise that the slaughter 
was originally done by masked men, like the Mumbo 
Jumbos and similar figures of west Africa, who went from 
house to house and were believed by the uninitiated to be 
the deity or his divine messengers come in person to carry 
off the victims. When the leaders had decided to allow the 
sacrifice of animals instead of children, they would give the 
people a hint that if they only killed a lamb and smeared 
its blood on the door-posts, the bloodthirsty but near-sighted 
deity would never know the difference. 
Attempts The attempt to outwit a malignant and dangerous spirit is 

raai'ignant^ common, and might be illustrated by many examples. Some 
spirit. instances will be noticed in a later part of this work. Here 
a single one may suffice. The Malays believe in a Spectral 
Huntsman, who ranges the forest with a pack of ghostly 
dogs, and whose apparition bodes sickness or death. Certain 
birds which fly in flocks by night uttering a loud and peculiar 
note are supposed to follow in his train. Hence when 
Perak peasants hear the weird sound, they run out and 
make a clatter with a knife on a wooden platter, crying, 
" Great-grandfather, bring us their hearts 1 " The Spectral 
Huntsman, hearing these words, will take the supplicants 
for followers of his own asking to share his bag. So he will 
spare the household and pass on, and the tumult of the wild 
hunt will die away in the darkness and the distance.^ 
The If this be indeed the origin of the Passover and of the 

sacriiicin'' Sanctity of the firstborn among the Hebrews, the whole of 

all the the Semitic evidence on the subject is seen to fall into line 
whether'of ^'^ once. The children whom the Carthaginians, Phoenicians, 
animals or Canaan ites, Moabites, Sepharvites, and probably other 

1 W. E. Maxwell, " The Folklore of Skeat, Malay Magic, p. II2. The 

the Malays," Journal of the Straits bird in question is thought to be the 

Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, goat-sucker or night-jar. 
No. 7 (June i88i), p. 14; W. W. 


branches of the Semitic race burnt in the fire would be men, was 
their firstborn only, although in general ancient writers v°^^^^y 

, . ^ very 

have failed to indicate this limitation of the custom. For ancient 
the Moabites, indeed, the limitation is clearly indicated, if?T'"f. 

' ' ■' ' institution. 

not expressly stated, when we read that the king of Moab 
offered his eldest son, who should have reigned after him, 
as a burnt sacrifice on the wall.^ For the Phoenicians it 
comes out less distinctly in the statement of Porphyry that 
the Phoenicians used to sacrifice one of their dearest to 
Baal, and in the legend recorded by Philo of Byblus that 
Cronus sacrificed his only-begotten son.^ We may suppose 
that the custom of sacrificing the firstborn both of men and 
animals was a very ancient Semitic institution, which many 
branches of the race kept up within historical times ; but 
that the Hebrews, while they maintained the custom in 
regard to domestic cattle, were led by their loftier morality 
to discard it in respect of children, and to replace it by a 
merciful law that firstborn children should be ransomed 
instead of sacrificed.^ 

The conclusion that the Hebrew custom of redeeming Sacrifice of 
the firstborn is a modification of an older custom of sacri- ^^iidren 
ficing them has been mentioned by some very distinguished among 
scholars only to be rejected on the ground, apparently, of its 
extreme improbability.* To me the converging lines of 
evidence which point to this conclusion seem too numerous 
and too distinct to be thus lightly brushed aside. And the 
argument from improbability can easily be rebutted by 
pointing to other peoples who are known to have practised 
or. to be still practising a custom of the same sort. In some 
tribes of New South Wales the firstborn child of every 
woman was eaten by the tribe as part of a religious cere- 

1 2 Kings iii. 27. p- 464- On the other hand, when I 

2 See above, pp. 166, 167. published the foregoing discussion in 

'"^ second edition of my book, I was 

3 As to the redemption of the first- ^^^. ^^^^^ ^^^^ ^^^ conclusion reached 
born among modern Jews, see L. Low, j„ jj j^^^j ^een anticipated by Prof. Th. 
Die Lebensalter m der judischen Lite- j^siitVe, who has drawn the same 
ra^«<?- (Szegedm, 1875), pp. 110-118; inference from the same evidence. See 
Budgett Meakin, The Moors (London, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlan- 
1902), pp. 440 sq. dischen Gesellschaft, xlii. (1888) p. 

* J. Wellhausen, Prolegomena :iur 483. I am happy to find myself in 
Geschichte Israels? p. 90 ; W. Robert- agreement with so eminent an authority 
son Smith, Religion of the Semites,"^ on Semitic antiquity. 



mony.^ Among the aborigines on the lower portions of 
the Paroo and Warrego rivers, which join the Darling River 
in New South Wales, girls used to become wives when they 
were mere children and to be mothers at fourteen, and the 
old custom was to kill the firstborn child by strangulation.^ 
Again, among the tribes about Maryborough in Queensland a 
girl's first child was almost always exposed and left to perish.^ 
In the tribes about Beltana, in South Australia, girls were 
married at fourteen, and it was customary to destroy their 
firstborn.* The natives of Rook, an island off the east coast 
of New Guinea, used to kill all their firstborn children ; they 
prided themselves on their humanity in burying the murdered 
infants instead of eating them as their barbarous neighbours 
did. They spared the second child but killed the third, and 
so on alternately with the rest of their offspring.^ Chinese 
history reports that in a state called Khai-muh, to the east 
of Yueh, it was customary to devour the firstborn sons,® and 
further, that to the west of Kiao-chi or Tonquin " there was 
a realm of man-eaters, where the firstborn son was, as a 
rule, chopped into pieces and eaten, and his younger brothers 
were nevertheless regarded to have fulfilled their fraternal 
dilties towards him. And if he proved to be appetizing 
food, they sent some of his flesh to their chieftains, who, 
exhilarated, gave the father a reward." "^ In India, down 
to the beginning of the nineteenth century, the custom of 

' R. Brough Smyth, Aborigines of ^ A. W. Howitt, Native Tribes of 

Victoria, ii. 311. In the Luritcha South- East Australia, p. 750. 

tribe of central Australia "young * S. Gason, in E. Curr's The 

children are sometimes killed and Australian Race, ii. 119. 

eaten, and it is not an infrequent ' Father Mazzuconi, in Annates de 

custom, when a child is in weak health, la Propagation de la Foi, xxvii. (1855) 

to kill a younger and healthy one and pp. 368 sq. 

then to feed the weakling on its flesh, ' J. J. M. de Groot, Religious 

the idea being that this will give the System of China, ii. 679, iv. 364. 

weak child the strength of the stronger "^ J. J. M. de Groot, op. cit. iv. 365. 

one " (Spencer and Gillen, Native On these Chinese reports Prof, de 

Tribes of Central Australia, p. 475). Groot remarks {pp. cit. iv. 366) : 

The practice seems to have been com- "Quite at a loss, however, we are to 

mon among the Australian aborigines. explain that eating of firstborn sons by 

See W. E. Stanbridge, quoted by R. their own nearest kinsfolk, absolutely 

Brough Smyth, op. cit. i. 52 ; A. W. inconsistent as it is with a primary law 

Howitt, Native Tribes of South-East of tribal life in general, which im- 

Australia, pp. 749, 750. periously demands that the tribe should 

2 G. Scriviner, in E. Curr's The make itself strong in male cognates, 

Australian Race, ii. 182. but not indulge in self-destruction by 


sacrificing a firstborn child to the Ganges was common.^ 
Again, we are told that among the Hindoos "the firstborn 
has always held a peculiarly sacred position, especially if 
born in answer to a vow to parents who have long been 
without offspring, in which case sacrifice of the child was 
common in India. The Mairs used to sacrifice a firstborn 
son to Mata, the small-pox goddess." ^ 

The Borans, on the southern borders of Abyssinia, Sacrifice of 
propitiate a sky-spirit called Wak by sacrificing their children cha^°en 
and cattle to him. Among them when a man of any among the 
standing marries, he becomes a Raba, as it is called, and for othCT°tri^°s 
a certain period after marriage, probably four to eight years, '« the 
he must leave any children that are born to him to die in Abyssinia. 
the bush. No Boran cares to contemplate the fearful 
calamities with which Wak would visit him if he failed to 
discharge this duty. After he ceases to be a Raba, a man 
is circumcised and becomes a Gudda. The sky-spirit has 
no claim on the children born after their father's circumcision, 
but they are sent away at a very early age to be reared by 
the Wata, a low caste of hunters. They remain with these 
people till they are grown up, and then return to their 
families.^ In this remarkable custom it would appear that 
the circumcision of the father is regarded as an atoning 
sacrifice which redeems the rest of his children from the 
spirit to whom they would otherwise belong. The obscure 
story told by the Israelites to explain the origin of circum- 
cision seems also to suggest that the custom was supposed 
.to save the life of the child by giving the deity a substitute 
for it.* Again, the Kerre, Banna, and Bashada, three tribes 
in the valley of the Omo River, to the south of Abyssinia, 

killing its natural defenders. We feel, Folklore, xiii. (1902) p. 63; id., in 

therefore, strongly inclined to believe Indian Antiquary, xxxi. (1902) pp. 

the statement fabulous." Such scepti- 162 sq. Mr. Rose is Superintendent 

cism implies an opinion of the good of Ethnography in the Punjaub. The 

sense and foresight of savages which is authorities cited by him are Moore's 

far from being justified by the facts. Hindu Infanticide, pp. 198 sq., and 

Many savage tribes have "indulged in Sherring's Hindu Tribes and Castes, 

self-destruction" by killing a large iii. p. 66. 

proportion of their children, both male ^ Captain Philip Maud, "Explora- 

and female. See below, pp. 196 sq. tion in the Southern Borderland of 

1 W. Crooke, Popular Religion and Abyssinia," The Geographical Journal, 
Folklore of Northern India, ii. 169. xxiii. (1904) pp. 567 sq. 

2 H. A. Rose, " Unlucky Children," * Exodus iv. 24-26. 




put to 
death in 

are in the habit of strangling their firstborn children and 
throwing the bodies away. The Kerre cast the bodies into 
the river Omo, where they are devoured by crocodiles ; the 
other two tribes leave them in the forest to be eaten by the 
hyaenas. The only explanation they give of the custom is 
that it was decreed by their ancestors. Captain C. H, 
Stigand enquired into the practice very carefully and was 
told that " for a certain number of years after marriage 
children would be thrown away, and after that they would 
be kept. The number of the first children who were 
strangled, and the period of years during which this was 
done, appears to be variable, but I could not understand 
what regulated it. There was one point, however, about 
which they were certain, and that was that the first-born of 
all, rich, poor, high and low, had to be strangled and thrown 
away. The chief of the Kerre said, ' If I had a child now, 
it would have to be thrown away,' laughing as if it were a 
great joke. What amused him really was that I should be 
so interested in their custom." So far as Captain Stigand 
could ascertain, there is no idea of sacrificing the children to 
the crocodiles by throwing them into the river. If a Kerre 
man has a first child born to him while he is on a journey 
away from the river, he will throw the infant away in the 
forest.^ In Uganda if the firstborn child of a chief or any 
important person is a son, the midwife strangles it and 
reports that the infant was still-born. " This is done to 
ensure the life of the father ; if he has a son born first he 
will soon die, and the child inherit all he has."^ Amongst 
the people of Senjero in eastern Africa we are told that 
many families must offer up their firstborn sons as sacrifices, 
because once upon a time, when summer and winter were 
jumbled together in a bad season, and the fruits of the earth 
would not ripen, the soothsayers enjoined it. At that time 
a great pillar of iron is said to have stood at the entrance of 
the capital, which in accordance with the advice of the 
soothsayers was broken down by order of the king, where- 

} Captain C. H. Stigand, To Abys- Baganda,'' Journal of the Anthropo- 

sinia through an Unknown Land logical Institute, xxxii. (1902) p. 30. 

(London, 1910), pp. 234 sq. Mr. Roscoe informs me that a similar 

2 J. Roscoe, " Further Notes on custom prevails also in Koki and 

the Manners and Customs of the Eunyoro. 


upon the seasons became regular again. To avert the 
recurrence of such a calamity the wizards commanded the 
king to pour human blood once a year on the base of the 
broken shaft of the pillar, and also upon the throne. Since 
then certain families have been obliged to deliver up their 
firstborn sons, who were sacrificed at an appointed time.^ 
Among some tribes of south-eastern Africa there is a rule 
that when a woman's husband has been killed in battle and 
she marries again, the first child she gives birth to after her 
second marriage must be put to death, whether she has it 
by her first or her second husband. Such a child is called 
" the child of the assegai," and if it were not killed, death or 
an accident would be sure to befall the second spouse, and 
the woman herself would be barren. The notion is that the 
woman must have had some share in the misfortune that 
overtook her first husband, and that the only way of removing 
the malign influence is to slay " the child of the assegai." ^ 

The heathen Russians often sacrificed their firstborn to Sacrifice 
the god Perun.^ It is said that on Mag Slacht or « plain of °^ifj^'^^7„" 
prostrations," near the present village of Ballymagauran, in Europe 
the County Cavan, there used to stand a great idol called America, 
Cromm Cruach, covered with gold, to which the ancient 
Irish sacrificed " the firstlings of every issue and the chief 
scions of every clan " in order to obtain plenty of corn, 
honey, and milk. Round about the golden image, which 
was spoken of as the king idol of Erin, stood twelve other 
idols of stone.* The Kutonaqa Indians of British Columbia 

^ J. L. Krapf, Travels, Researches, custom is obsolete and lives only in 

and Missionary Labours during an tradition ; formerly it was universally 

Eighteen Years' Residence in Eastern practised. 

Africa (London, i860), pp. (sc) sq. ^ F. J. Mone, Geschichte des Heiden- 

Dr. Krapf, who reports the custom at thums im nSrdlichen Europa (Leipsic 

second hand, thinks that the existence and Darmstadt, 1822- 1823), i. 119. 
of the pillar may be doubted, but that * Vallancey, Collectanea de rebus 

the rest of the story harmonises well Hibemicis, vol. iii. (Dublin, 1786) p. 

enough with African superstition. 457 ; D. Nutt, The Voyage of Bran, 

2 J. Macdonald, Light in Africa'' ii. 149-151, 304 sq.; P. W. Joyce, 

(London, 1890), p. 156. In the text I Social History of Ancient Ireland, i. 

have embodied some fuller explanations 275 sq., 281-284. The authority for 

and particulars which my friend the Rev. the tradition is the Dinnschenckas or 

Mr. Macdonald was good enough to send Dinnsenchus, s. Aoz-matvA compiled in 

me in a letter dated September i6th, the eleventh and twelfth centuries out 

1899. Among the tribes with which of older materials. Mr. Joyce dis- 

Mr. Macdonald is best acquainted the credits the tradition of human sacrifice. 


Sacrifice of worship the sun and sacrifice their firstborn children to him. 
chiid°ento When a woman is with child she prays to the sun, saying, 
the sun. " I am with child. When it is born I shall offer it to you. 
Have pity upon us." Thus they expect to secure health 
and good fortune for their families.^ Among the- Coast 
Salish Indians of the same region the first child is often 
sacrificed to the sun in order to ensure the health and 
prosperity of the whole family.^ The Indians of Florida 
sacrificed their firstborn male children.^ Among the Indians 
of north Carolina down to the early part of the eighteenth 
century a remarkable ceremony was performed, which seems 
to be most naturally interpreted as a modification of an 
older custom of putting the king's son to death, perhaps as 
a substitute for his father. It is thus described by a writer 
of that period : " They have a strange custom or ceremony 
amongst them, to call to mind the persecutions and death 
of the kings their ancestors slain by their enemies at 
certain seasons, and particularly when the savages have 
been at war with any nation, and return from their country 
without bringing home some prisoners of war, or the heads 
of their enemies. The king causes as a perpetual remem- 
brance of all his predecessors to beat and wound the best 
beloved of all his children with the same weapons wherewith 
they had been kill'd in former times, to the end that by 
renewing the wound, their death should be lamented afresh. 
The king and his nation being assembled on these occasions, 
a feast is prepared, and the Indian who is authorised to 
wound the king's son, runs about the house like a distracted 
person crying and making a most hideous noise all the time 
with the weapon in his hand, wherewith he wounds the 
king's son ; this he performs three several times, during 
which interval he presents the king with victuals or cassena, 
and it is very strange to see the Indian that is thus struck 
never offers to stir till he is wounded the third time, after 

1 Fr. Boas, in "Fourth Annual 2 -pt. Boas, in Fifth Report on the 

Report on the North -Western Tribes North-Western Tribes of Canada, p. 

of Canada," Report of the British 46 (separate reprint from the Report 

Association for 1888, p. 242; id., in of the British Association for 1889). 
Fifth Report on the North - Western 

Tribes of Canada, p. 52 (separate re- s w. Strachey, Historie of travaile 

print from the Report of the British into Virginia Britannia (Hakluyt 

Association for i88g). Society, London, 1849), p. 84 


which he falls down backwards stretching out his arms and 
legs as if he had been ready to expire ; then the rest of the 
king's sons and daughters, together with the mother and 
vast numbers of women and girls, fall at his feet and lament 
and cry most bitterly. During this time the king and his 
retinue are feasting, yet with such profound silence for some 
hours, that not one word or even a whisper is to be heard 
amongst them. After this manner they continue till night, 
which ends in singing, dancing, and the greatest joy imagin- 
able." ^ In this account the description of the frantic 
manner assumed by the person whose duty it was to wound 
the king's son reminds us of the frenzy of King Athamas 
when he took or attempted the lives of his children.^ The Sacrifice of 
same feature is said to have characterised the sacrifice of '^^^^^^ '" 
children in Peru. " When any person of note was sick and 
the priest said he must die, they sacrificed his son, desiring 
the idol to be satisfied with him and not to take away his 
father's life. The ceremonies used at these sacrifices were 
strange, for they behaved themselves like mad men. They 
believed that all calamities were occasioned by sin, and that 
sacrifices were the remedy." ^ An early Spanish historian 
of the conquest of Peru, in describing the Indians of the 
Peruvian valleys between San-Miguel and Caxamalca, records 
that " they have disgusting sacrifices and temples of idols 
which they hold in great veneration ; they offer them their 
most precious possessions. Every month they sacrifice their 
own children and smear with the blood of the victims the 
face of the idols and the doors of the temples." * In Puruha, 
a province of Quito, it used to be customary to sacrifice the 
firstborn children to the gods. Their remains were dried, 
enclosed in vessels of metal or stone, and kept in the 
houses.' The Ximanas and Cauxanas, two Indian tribes 

1 J. Bricknell, The Natural History Compare J. de Acosta, Natural and 
of North Carolina (Dublin, 1737), Moral History of the Indies (Hakhiyl 
pp. 342 sq. I have taken the liberty Society, London, 1880), ii. 344. 

of altering slightly the writer's some- * Fr. Xeres, Relation viridique de 

what eccentric punctuation. la conqulte du Perou et de la Province 

2 See above, p. 162. deCuzconommieNouvelle-Castille(\n'ii. 

3 A. de Herrera, The General His- Ternaux-Compans's Voyages, relations 
tory of the Vast Continent and Islands et mimoires, etc., Paris, 1837), p. 53. 
of America, translated by Capt. John ^ Juan de Velasco, Histoire du 
Stevens (London, 1725-6), iv. 347 sq. royaume de Quito, i. (Paris, 1840) 


in the upper valley of the Amazon, kill all their firstborn 
children.^ If the firstborn is a girl, the Lengua Indians 
invariably put it to death.^ 

Among the ancient Italian peoples, especially of the 
Sabine stock, it was customary in seasons of great peril or 
public calamity, as when the crops had failed or a pestilence 
was raging, to vow that they would sacrifice to the gods 
every creature, whether man or beast, that should be born in 
the following spring. To the creatures thus devoted to 
sacrifice the name of "the sacred spring" was applied. 
" But since," says Festus, " it seemed cruel to slay innocent 
boys and girls, they were kept till they had grown up, then 
veiled and driven beyond the boundaries." ^ Several Italian 
peoples, for example the Piceni, Samnites, and Hirpini, 
traced their origin to a " sacred spring," that is, to the 
consecrated youth who had swarmed off from the parent 
stock in consequence of such a vow.* When the Romans 
were engaged in a life -and -death struggle with Hannibal 
after their great defeat at the Trasimene Lake, they vowed 
to offer a " sacred spring " if victory should attend their 
arms and the commonwealth should retrieve its shattered 

p. 1 06 (forming vol. xviii. of H. respectively, of which the woodpecker 

Ternaux-Compans's Voyages, relations (picus) and the wolf (hirpus) gave their 

et mimoires, etc.). names to the Piceni and the Hirpini. 

1 A. R. Wallace, Narrative of The tradition may perhaps preserve a 
Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro trace of totemism, but in the absence 
(London, 1889), p. 355. of clearer evidence it would be rash to 

2 W. Barbrooke Grubb, An Un- assume that it does so. The wood- 
known People in an Unknown Land pecker was sacred among the Latins, 
(London, 191 1), p. 233. and a woodpecker as well as a wolf is 

' Festus, De veriorum significatione, said to have fed the twins Romulus 

s.vv. "Mamertini," " Sacrani," and and Remus (Plutarch, Quaest. Rom. 

" Ver sacrum," pp. 158, 370, 371, 21; Ovid, Fasti, iii. 37 sq.). Does 

379, ed. C. O. Mliller ; Servius on this legend point to the existence of a 

Virgil, .<^««.vii. 796; Nonius Marcellus, wolf- clan and a woodpecker - clan at 

s.v. "ver sacrum," p. 522 (p. 610, ed. Rome? There was perhaps a similar 

Quicherat) ; Varro, Rerum rusticarum, conjunction of wolf and woodpecker at 

iii. 16. 29; Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Soracte, for the woodpecker is spoken 

Antiquit.Ro}n.i.i6z.nA2^S(i.,\\.l.2. of as the bird of Feronia ("picus 

* Strabo, V. 4. 2 and 12; Pliny, iVa^. Feronius" Festus, s.v. "Oscines," 

^wAiii.iio; Yesi\iS,Devcrborumsigni- p. 197, ed. C. O. MilUer), a goddess 

7?caft>K«, j-.w. "Irpini,"ed. C. O. Miiller, in whose sanctuary at Soracte certain 

p. 106. It is worthy of note that the men went by the name of Soranian 

threeswarmswhichafterwardsdeveloped Wolves (Servius, on Virgil, Aen. xi. 

into the Piceni, the Samnites, and the 785 ; Pliny, Nat. hist. vii. 19 ; 

Hirpini were said to have been guided Strabo, v. 2. 9). These " Soranian 

by a woodpecker, a bull, and a wolf Wolves " will meet us again later on. 


fortunes. But the vow extended only to all the offspring of 
sheep, goats, oxen, and swine that should be brought forth 
on Italian mountains, plains, and meadows the following 
spring.^ On a later occasion, when the Romans pledged 
themselves again by a similar vow, it was decided that by 
the "sacred spring" should be meant all the cattle born 
between the first day of March and the last day of April.^ 
Although in later times the Italian peoples appear to have 
resorted to measures of this sort only in special emergencies, 
there was a tradition that in former times the consecration 
of the firstborn to the gods had been an annual custom.' 
Accordingly, it seems not impossible that originally the 
Italians may, like the Hebrews and perhaps the Semites in 
general, have been in the habit of dedicating all the firstborn, 
whether of man or beast, and sacrificing them at a great 
festival in spring.* The custom of the " sacred spring " was 
not confined to the Italians, but was practised by many 
other peoples, both Greeks and barbarians, in antiquity.* 

Thus it would seem that a custom of putting to death Different 
all firstborn children has prevailed in many , parts of the ™°"™s 

^ .' r may have 

world. What was the motive which led people to practise led to the 
a custom which to us seems at once so cruel and so foolish ? kuung^he 
It cannot have been the purely prudential consideration firstborn. 
of adjusting the numbers of the tribe to the amount of the 
food -supply; for, in the first place, savages do not take 
such thought for the morrow,® and, in the second place, if 

' Livy, xxii. -9 j-^. ; VhiXaxcii, Fabius dearth (Strabo, vi. I. 6, p. 257). 

Maximus, 4. Justin speaks of the Gauls sending out 

2 Livy, xxxiv. 44. three hundred thousand men, " as it 

3 Dionysius Halicamasensis, Anti- were a sacred spring," to seek a new 
quit. Rom. i. 24. home (Justin, xxiv. 4. i). 

* Schwegler thought it hardly open " The Australian aborigines resort 

to question that the "sacred spring" to infanticide to keep down the number 

was a substitute for an original custom of a family. But "the number is kept 

of human sacrifice (Homische Geschichte, down, not with any idea at all of regu- 

i. 240 sq.). The inference is denied lating the food supply, so far as the 

on insufficient grounds by R. von adults are concerned, but simply from 

Ihering ( Vorgeschichte der Indoeuro- the point of view that, if the mother is 

pder, pp. 309 sqq.). suckling one child, she cannot properly 

^ Dionysius Halicamasensis, Anti- provide food for another, quite apart 
quit. Rom. i. 16. I. Rhegium in Italy from the question of the trouble of carry- 
was founded by Chalcidian colonists, ing two children about. An Australian 
who in obedience to the Delphic native never looks far enough ahead to 
Oracle had been dedicated as a tithe- consider what will be the effect on the 
offering to Apollo on account of a food supply in future years if he allows 


they did, they would be likely to kill the later born children 

rather than the firstborn. The foregoing evidence suggests 

that the custom may have been practised by different 

peoples from different motives. With the Semites, the 

Italians, and their near kinsmen the Irish the sacrifice or at 

least the consecration of the firstborn seems to have been 

viewed as a tribute paid to the gods, who were thus content 

to receive a part though they might justly have claimed the 

whole. In some cases the death of the child appears to be 

definitely regarded as a substitute for the death of the 

father, who obtains a new lease of life by the sacrifice of his 

offspring. This comes out clearly in the tradition of Aun, 

King of Sweden, who sacrificed one of his sons every nine 

A belief in years to Odin in order to prolong his own life.^ And in 

rf^soS's'"' Peru also the son died that the father might live.^ But in 

may in some cascs it would seem that the child has been killed, not 

have '^^^^^ so much as a substitute for the father, as because it is 

operated to supposed to endanger his life by absorbing his spiritual 

fantidTe, essence or vital energy. In fact, a belief in the transmigra- 

especiaiiy j-Jq^ or rebirth of souls has operated to produce a regular 

of the first- r • r- • - i ■ n • r • • 1 r 1 ,- i 

born. custom of mfanticide, especially mianticide of the firstborn. 

At Whydah, on the Slave coast of West Africa, where the 

doctrine of reincarnation is firmly held, it has happened that 

a child has been put to death because the fetish doctors 

declared it to be the king's father come to life again. The 

king naturally could not submit to be pushed from the 

throne by his predecessor in this fashion ; so he compelled 

his supposed parent to return to the world of the dead from 

The which he had very inopportunely effected his escape.* The 

be'iiCTe°that Hindoos are of opinion that a man is literally reborn in the 

a man is person of his son. Thus in the Laws of Manu we read that 

his son,'" "the husband, after conception by his wife, becomes an 

while at embryo and is born again of her ; for that is the wifehood of 

time he ^ wife, that he is born again by her." * Hence after the birth 

a particular child to live; what affects ^ Above, p. 185. 

him is simply the question of how it ^ Father Baudin, "Le Fetichisme,'' 

will interfere with the work of his wife Missions Catholiques, xvi. ( 1 884) p. 

so far as their own camp is concerned" 259. 

(Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes of * The Laws of Manu, xx.. 8, p. 329, 

Central Australia, p. 264) . G. Biihler's translation (Sacred Books 

^ See above, pp. 57, ito sq. of the East, -vol. -ax-v.). On this Hindoo 


of a son the father is clearly in a very delicate position, dies in 
Since he is his own son, can he himself, apart from his son, ^'^ °*'" 

.... . person. 

be said to exist ? Does he not rather die in his own person 
as soon as he comes to life in the person of his son ? This 
appears to be the opinion of the subtle Hindoo, for in some 
sections of the Khatris, a mercantile caste of the Punjaub, 
funeral rites are actually performed for the father in the fifth 
month of his wife's pregnancy. But apparently he is allowed, 
by a sort of legal fiction, to come to life again in his own 
person ; for after the birth of his first son he is formally 
remarried to his wife, which may be regarded as a tacit 
admission that in the eye of the law at least he is alive.^ 

Now to people who thus conceive the relation of father Painful 
and son it is plain that fatherhood must appear a very ^ fa^er. 
dubious privilege ; for if you die in begetting a son, can you 
be quite sure of coming to life again ? His existence is at 
the best a menace to yours, and at the worst it may involve 
your extinction. The danger seems to lie especially in the 
birth of your first son ; if only you can tide that over, you are, 
humanly speaking, safe. In fact, it comes to this, Are you to 
live ? or is he ? It is a painful dilemma. Parental affection 
urges you to die that he may live. Self-love whispers, " Live 
and let him die. You are in the flower of your age. You 
adorn the circle in which you move. You are useful, nay, in- 
dispensable, to society. He is a mere babe. He never will be 
missed." Such a train of thought, preposterous as it seems to 
us, might easily lead to a custom of killing the firstborn.^ 

doctrine of reincarnation, its logical sq. ; H. H. Risley, The Tribes and 

consequences and its analogies in other Castes of Bengal, i. 47S sqq. ; W. 

parts of the world, see J. von Nege- Crooke, The Tribes and Castes of the 

lein, " Eine Quelle der indischen North-western Provinces and Oudh, 

Seelenwanderungvorstellung," Archiv iii. 264 sqq. 

fiir Religionswissenschaft, vi. (1903) ^ jhe same suggestion has been 
pp. 320-333. Compare E. S. Hart- made by Dr. E. Westermarck (The 
land, The Legend of Perseus, i. 218 Origin and Development of the Moral 
sq. ; id.. Primitive Paternity (Lonian, Ideas, i. (London, 1906) pp. 460 sq.). 
1909-1910), ii. 196 sqq. Some years ago, before the publication 
' H. A. [J. A.] Rose, •' Unlucky of his book and while the present 
and Lucky Children, and some Birth volume was still in proof. Dr. Wester- 
Superstitions," Indian Antiquary, marck and I in conversation dis- 
xxxi. (1902) p. 516; id., in Folklore, covered that we had independently 
xiii. (1902) pp. 278 sq. As to the arrived at the same conjectural ex- 
Khatris, see D. C. J. Ibbetson, Out- planation of the custom of killing the 
lines of Punjab Ethnography, pp. 295 firstborn. 


The same Further, the same notion of the rebirth of the father in 

the'rebirth ^'^ eldest son would explain the remarkable rule of succes- 

ofthe sion which prevailed in Polynesia and particularly in Tahiti, 

the son" where as soon as the king had a son born to him he was 

would ex- obliged to abdicate the throne in favour of the infant. 

fnToiy-^ Whatever might be the king's age, his influence in the state, 

nesia in- or the political situation of affairs, no sooner was the child 

ceeded to bom than the monarch became a subject : the infant was at 

the chief- once proclaimed the sovereign of the people : the royal name 

tainship as '■ , . • r i , ,- 

soon as was Conferred upon him, and his father was the first to do 
born^dr ^™ homage, by saluting his feet and declaring him king. 
fathers All matters, however, of importance which concerned either 
fn thetr'"^ the internal welfare or the foreign relations of the country 
favour. continued to be transacted by the father and his councillors ; 
but every edict was issued in the name and on the behalf of 
the youthful monarch, and though the whole of the execu- 
tive government might remain in the hands of the father, he 
only acted as regent for his son, and was regarded as such 
by the nation. The lands and other sources of revenue 
were appropriated to the maintenance of the infant ruler, his 
household, and his attendants ; the insignia of royal authority 
were transferred to him, and his father rendered him all 
those marks of humble respect which he had hitherto 
exacted from his subjects. This custom of succession was 
not confined to the family of the sovereign, it extended also 
to the nobles and the landed gentry ; they, too, had to resign 
their rank, honours, and possessions on the birth of a son. 
A man who but yesterday was a baron, not to be approached 
by his inferiors till they had ceremoniously bared the whole 
of the upper part of their bodies, was to-day reduced to the 
rank of a mere commoner with none to do him reverence if 
in the night time his wife had given birth to a son, and the 
child had been suffered to live. The father indeed still con- 
tinued to administer the estate, but he did so for the benefit 
of the infant, to whom it now belonged, and to whom all the 
marks of respect were at once transferred.^ 

1 Capt. J. Cook, Voyages (London, Researchesfm..<j^-\Qi- J. A. Mouren- 

1809), i. 225 sq. ; Capt. J. Wilson, hout. Voyages aux ties du Grand 

Missionary Voyage to the Southern Ocian, ii. \-^ sq.\ Mathias G. * * * 

Pacific Ocean (London, 1799), pp. 327, Lettres sur les lies Marquise's (Paris' 

330. 333; W. Ellis, Polynesian 1843), pp. 103 j-^. ; H. Hale, £7»?ferf 


This singular usage becomes intelligible if the spirit of Such a 
the father was supposed to quit him at the birth of his first ™'^ °*^. 

^^ ^ succession 

son and to reappear in the infant. Such a belief and such might 
a practice would, it is obvious, supply a powerful motive to j^^^'^ '^^ 
infanticide, since a father could not rear his firstborn son practice of 
without thereby relinquishing the honours and possessions 
to which he had been accustomed. The sacrifice was a 
heavy one, and we need not wonder if many men refused to 
make it. Certainly infanticide was practised in Polynesia to Prevalence 
an extraordinary extent. The first missionaries estimated °f '"{^°"- 

-' cide in 

that not less than two-thirds of the children were murdered Polynesia. 
by their parents, and this estimate has been confirmed by a 
careful enquirer. It would seem that before the introduc- 
tion of Christianity there was not a single mother in the 
islands who was not also a murderess, having imbrued her 
hands in the blood of her offspring. Three native women, 
the eldest not more than forty years of age, happened once 
to be in a room where the conversation turned on infanticide, 
and they confessed to having destroyed not less than twenty- 
one infants between them.^ It would doubtless be a gross 
mistake to lay the whole blame of these massacres on the 
doctrine of reincarnation, but we can hardly doubt that it 
instigated a great many. Once more we perceive the fatal 
consequences that may flow in practice from a theoretical 

In some places the abdication of the father does not take in some 
place until the son is grown up. This was the general ^^^^^ 
practice in Fiji.^ In Raratonga as soon as a son reached ei'^er 
manhood, he would fight and wrestle with his father for the w^en his 
mastery, and if he obtained it he would take forcible posses- =0° attains 

. , , . , . . . . . ^ to man- 

sion of the farm and drive his parent in destitution from hood or is 

home.^ Among the Corannas of South Africa the youthful fo^Wy 

*=> deposed by 

son of a chief is hardly allowed to walk, but has to idle away him. 
his time in the hut and to drink much milk in order that he 
may grow strong. When he has attained to manhood his 

States Exploring Expedition, Ethno- among the Islands of the Western Pacific 

grafhy and Philology (Philadelphia, (London, 1853), p. 233. 
1846), p. 34. 

1 W. Ellis, Polynesian Researches,^ ^ J. Williams, Narrative of Mission- 
1.251-253. ~ ary Enterprises in the South Sea Islands 

2 J. E. ^x^vas. Journal of a Cruise (London, 1836), pp. 117 sq. 


father produces two short, bullet-headed sticks and presents 

one to his son, while he keeps the other for himself. Armed 

with these weapons the two often fight, 'and when the son 

succeeds in knocking his parent down he is acknowledged 

chief of the kraal.^ But such customs probably do not 

imply the theory of rebirth ; they may only be applications 

of the principle that might is right. Still they would equally 

supply the father with a motive for killing the infant son 

who, if suffered to live, would one day strip him of his rank 

and possessions. 

The Perhaps customs of this sort have left traces of them- 

the d^osi- selves in Greek myth and legend. Cronus or Saturn, as the 

tion of the Romans called him, is said to have been the youngest son 

his son ^ of the sky-god Uranus, and to have mutilated his father and 

•nay reigned in his stead as king of gods and men. Afterwards 

traced in he was wamed by an oracle that he himself should be deposed 

Greek jjy ^jg gon. To prevent that catastrophe Cronus swallowed 

myth and , 

legend. his children, one after the other, as soon as they were born. 
Cronus Only the youngest of them, Zeus, was saved through a trick 
children. °f ^^^ mother's, and in time he fiilfilled the oracle by banish- 
ing his father and sitting on his throne. But Zeus in his 
turn was told that his wife Metis would give birth to a son 
who would supplant him in the kingdom of heaven. Accord- 
ingly, to rid himself of his future rival he resorted to a device 
like that which his father Cronus had employed for a similar 
purpose. Only instead of waiting till the child was born 
and then devouring it, he made assurance doubly sure by 
swallowing his wife with the unborn babe in her womb.^ 
Such barbarous myths become intelligible if we suppose that 
they took their rise among people who were accustomed to 
see grown-up sons supplanting their fathers by force, and 
fathers murdering and perhaps eating their infants in order 
to secure themselves against their future rivalry. We have 
met with instances of savage tribes who are said to devour 
their firstborn children.^ 

' J. Campbell, Travels in South ^ Above, pp. 179 sq. Traces of a 

Africa, Second Journey (London, customof sacrificing the children instead 

1822), ii. 276. of the father may perhaps be found in 

2 Hesiod, Theogony, 137 sqq., 453 the legends that Menoeceus, son of 

sqq., 886 sqq. ; ApoUodorus, Biblio- Creon, died to save Thebes, and that 

iheca, i. 1-3. one or more of the daughters of Erech- 


The legend that Laius, king of Thebes, exposed his infant Legend of 
son Oedipus, who afterwards slew his father and sat on the Of<iiP"S' 

^ ' who slew 

throne, may well be a reminiscence of a state of things in his father 
which father and son regularly plotted against each other. ^^^-^^^ ^is 
The other feature of the story, to wit the marriage of Oedipus mother. 
with the widowed queen, his mother, fits in very well with Marriage 
the rule which has prevailed in some countries that a valid ^y'j,^g(j 
title to the throne is conferred by marriage with the late queen 
king's widow. That custom probably arose, as I have ^^3™^^ 
endeavoured to shew,^ in an age when the blood-royal ran legitimate 
in the female line, and when the king was a man of another kingdom. 
family, often a stranger and foreigner, who reigned only in 
virtue of being the consort of a native princess, and whose 
sons never succeeded him on the throne. But in process of Marriage 
time, when fathers had ceased to regard the birth of a son mo^her'OT 
as a menace to their life, or at least to their regal power, a sister, a 
kings would naturally scheme to secure the succession ^°uring 
for their own male offspring, and this new practice could 'he succes 
be reconciled with the old one by marrying the king's son ^^g^j own 
either to his own sister or, after his father's decease, to children, 
his stepmother. We have seen marriage with a step- transfer- 
mother actually enjoined for this very purpose by some '_'"? *e m- 
of the Saxon kings.^ And on this hypothesis we can from the 
understand why the custom of marriage with a full or a^™^^j'° 
half sister has prevailed in so many royal families.' It was hne. 

theus perished to save Athens. See i. 7. i (vol. ii. p. 85); For other 

Euripides, Phoenissae, 889 sqq. ; instances see V. Noel, " He de Mada- 

ApoUodorus, iii. 6. 7, iii. 15. 4; gascar, recherches sur les Sakkalava," 

Schol. on Aristides, Panathen. p. 113, Bulletin de la Sociiti de Giographie 

ed. Dindorf; Cicero, 7«jc«/., i. 48. 116; (Paris), Deuxi^me Serie, xx. (Paris, 

id., De natura deorum, \\\. 19. 50; 1843) pp. 63 j?. (among the Sakkalavas 

W. H. Roscher, Lexikon d. griech. und of Madagascar) ; V. L. Cameron, 

rdm. MythologieX \20i?> sq.,\\. 2794J?. Across Africa (London, 1877), ii. 70, 

1 Se& The Magic Art and the Evolu- 149; J. Roscoe, "Further Notes on 
tion of Kings, vo\. '-a., ^-g. 2(><i sqq. the Manners and Customs of the 

2 %e.e. The Magic Art and the Evolu- Bagnnda," Journal of the Anthropo- 
tion of Kings, vol. li.'p.z^z- TheOedi- logical Institute, xxxii. (1902) p. 27 
pus legend would conform still more (among the Baganda of Central Africa) ; 
closely to custom if we could suppose J. G. Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy, 
that marriage with a mother was for- ii. 523, 538 (among the Banyoro and 
merly allowed in cases where the king Bahima) ; J. Dos Santos, " Eastern 
had neither a sister nor a stepmother, Ethiopia," in G.McCallTheal'sTPeforrfj 
by marrying whom he could otherwise of South- Eastern Africa, vii. 191 (as 
legalise his claim to the throne. to the kings of Sofala in eastern Africa). 

3 Examples of this custom are col- But Dos Santos's statement is doubted 
lected by me in a note on Pausanias, by Dr. McCall Theal {op. cit. p. 395). 

PT. Ill O 




and sister 
in royal 

Kings' sons 
of their 

introduced, we may suppose, for the purpose of giving the 
king's son the right of succession hitherto enjoyed, under a 
system of female kinship, either by the son of the king's 
sister or by the husband of the king's daughter ; for under 
the new rule the heir to the throne united both these charac- 
ters, being at once the son of the king's sister and, through 
marriage with his own sister, the husband of the king's 
daughter. Thus the custom of brother and sister marriage 
in royal houses marks a transition from female to male 
descent of the crown.^ In this connexion it may be signifi- 
cant that Cronus and Zeus themselves married their full 
sisters Rhea and Hera, a tradition which naturally proved 
a stone of stumbling to generations who had forgotten the 
ancient rule of policy which dictated such incestuous unions, 
and who had so far inverted the true relations of gods and 
men as to expect their deities to be edifying models of the 
new virtues instead of warning examples of the old vices.^ 
They failed to understand that men create their gods in 
their own likeness, and that when the creator is a savage, 
his creatures the gods are savages also. 

With the preceding evidence before us we may safely 
infer that a custom of allowing a king to kill his son, as a 
substitute or vicarious sacrifice for himself, would be in no 
way exceptional or surprising, at least in Semitic lands, where 
indeed religion seems at one time to have recommended or 
enjoined every man, as a duty that he owed to his god, to 
take the life of his eldest son. And it would be entirely in 
accordance with analogy if, long after the barbarous custom 
had been dropped by others, it continued to be observed 
by kings, who remain in many respects the representatives 
of a vanished world, solitary pinnacles that topple over the 
rising waste of waters under which the past lies buried. We 
have seen that in Greece two families of royal descent 

1 This explanation of the custom 
was anticipated by McLennan : 
"Another rule of chiefly succession, 
which has been mentioned, that which 
gave the chiefship to a sister's son, 
appears to have been nullified in some 
cases by an extraordinary but effective 
expedient — by the chief, that is, marry- 
ing his own sister" {The Patriarchal 

Theory, based on the Papers of the late 
John Ferguson McLennan, edited and 
completed by Donald McLennan (Lon- 
don, 1885), p. 95). 

2 Compare Cicero, De natura 
deorum, ii. 26. 66 ; [Plutarch], De vita 
et poesi Honieri, ii. 96 ; Lactantius, 
Divin. Inst. i. 10 ; Firmicus Maternus, 
De erroreprofanarum religionum, xii. 4. 


remained liable to furnish human victims from their number 

down to a time when the rest of their fellow countrymen 

and countrywomen ran hardly more risk of being sacrificed 

than passengers in Cheapside at present run of being hurried 

into St. Paul's or Bow Church and immolated on the altar. 

A final mitigation of the custom would be to substitute con- Substim- 

demned criminals for innocent victims. Such a substitution demned°° 

is known to have taken place in the human sacrifices annually criminals. 

offered in Rhodes to Baal,^ and we have seen good grounds 

for believing that the criminal, who perished on the cross or 

the gallows at Babylon, died instead of the king in whose 

royal robes he had been allowed to masquerade for a few 


* Porphyry, De abstinentia, ii. 54. 



A custom To the view that in early times, and among barbarous 
king""to^ races, kings have frequently been put to death at the end of 
death at a short reign, it may be objected that such a custom would 
fntervais tend to the extinction of the royal family. The objection 
might ex- fjjay be met by observing, first, that the kingship is often 
the families not Confined to one family, but may be shared in turn by 
from which several ; ^ second, that the office is frequently not hereditary, 

thekmgs . ' ' ^ ., , . , 

were but IS Open to men of any family, even to foreigners, who 

bTihi ^^y ^"'^' ^^^ requisite conditions, such as marrying a 
tendency princcss or Vanquishing the king in battle ; ^ and, third, that 
nob'ar to ^^^" ''^ *^^ custom did tend to the extinction of a dynasty, 
the observ- that is not a consideration which would prevent its observ- 
custom. ^ ance among people less provident of the future and less 
Many heedful of human life than ourselves. Many races, like 
races have many individuals have indulged in practices which must in 

mdulged m "^ o i 

practices the end destroy them. Not to mention such customs as 

direcu '^"^ collective suicide and the prohibition of marriage,^ both of 

to their which may be set down to religious mania, we have seen 

extinction. ^^^^ ^^^ Polynesians killed two-thirds of their children.* In 

some parts of East Africa the proportion of infants massacred 

at birth is said to be the same. Only children born in 

certain presentations are allowed to live.* The Jagas, a 

conquering tribe in Angola, are reported to have put to 

' See The Magic Art and the Evolu- Sir D. Mackenzie Wallace, Russia, 

lion of Kings, n. 2^2 sgq. (London [1877]), p. 302. As to 

2 See The Magic Art and the Evobi- collective suicide, see above, pp. 43 sgq. 
Hon of Kings, ii. 269 sqq. ■* Above, p. 191. 

3 Men and women of the Khlysti ' Father Picarda, " Autour de Man- 
sect in Russia abhor marriage ; and dera, notes sur I'Ourigowa, I'Oukwer^ 
in the sect of the Skoptsi or Eunuchs et I'Oudoe (Zanguebar)," Missions 
the devotees mutilate themselves. See Catholiques, xviii. (1886) p, 284. 



death all their children, without exception, in order that the 
women might not be cumbered with babies on the march. 
They recruited their numbers by adopting boys and girls of 
thirteen or fourteen years of age, whose parents they had 
killed and eaten.^ Among the Mbaya Indians of South 
America the women used to murder all their children except 
the last, or the one they believed to be the last. If one of 
them had another child afterwards, she killed it.^ We need not 
wonder that this practice entirely destroyed a branch of the 
Mbaya nation, who had been for many years the most for- 
midable enemies of the Spaniards.^ Among the Lengua 
Indians of the Gran Chaco the missionaries discovered 
what they describe as " a carefully planned system of 
racial suicide, by the practice of infanticide by abortion, 
and other methods." * Nor is infanticide the only mode 
in which a savage tribe commits suicide. A lavish use of 
the poison ordeal may be equally effective. Some time 
ago a small tribe named Uwet came down from the hill 
country, and settled on the left branch of the Calabar river 
in West Africa. When the missionaries first visited the place, 
they found the population considerable, distributed into three 
villages. Since then the constant use of the poison ordeal has 
almost extinguished the tribe. On one occasion the whole 
population took poison to prove their innocence. About 
half perished on the spot, and the remnant, we are told, 
still continuing their superstitious practice, must soon become 
extinct.^ With such examples before us we need not 
hesitate to believe that many tribes have felt no scruple or 
delicacy in observing a custom which tends to wipe out a 
single family. To attribute such scruples to them is to 
commit the common, the perpetually repeated mistake of 

1 The Strange Adventures of Andrew * W. Barbrooke Grubb, An Un- 
Battell (Hakluyt Society, 1901), pp. known People in an Unknown Land 
32, %/^sq. (London, 1911), p. 233. 

2 F. de Azara, Voyages dans 

VAmirique MMdionale (Paris, 1 809), ^ Hugh Goldie, Calabar and its 

ii. 1 1 5- 1 1 7. The writer affirms that Mission, new edition with additional 

the custom was universally established chapters by the Rev. John Taylor 

among all the women of the Mbaya Dean (Edinburgh and London, 1 901), 

natibn, as well as among the women pp. 34 sq., 37 sq. The preface to the 

of other Indian nations. original edition of this work is dated 

^ R. Southey, History of Brazil, iii. 1890. By this time the tribal suicide 

(London, 1819) p. 385. is probably complete. 


judging the savage by the standard of European civilisation. 
If any of my readers set out with the notion that all races of 
men think and act much in the same way as educated 
Englishmen, the evidence of superstitious belief and custom 
collected in the volumes of this work should suffice to dis- 
abuse him of so erroneous a prepossession. 
Trans- The explanation here given of the custom of killing 

the soul of divine persons assumes, or at least is readily combined with, 
the slain the idea that the soul of the slain divinity is transmitted to 
successor, his successor. Of this transmission I have no direct proof 
except in the case of the Shilluk, among whom the practice 
of killing the divine king prevails in a typical form, and with 
whom it is a fundamental article of faith that the soul of 
the divine founder of the dynasty is immanent in every one 
of his slain successors.^ But if this is the only actual 
example of such a belief which I can adduce, analogy seems 
to render it probable that a similar succession to the soul of 
the slain god has been supposed to take place in other in- 
stances, though direct evidence of it is wanting. For it has 
been already shewn that the soul of the incarnate deity is 
often supposed to transmigrate at death into another incar- 
nation ; ^ and if this takes place when the death is a natural 
one, there seems no reason why it should not take place when 
Trans- the death has been brought about by violence. Certainly the 
the souls idea that the soul of a dying person may be transmitted to his 
of chiefs to successor is perfectly familiar to primitive peoples. In Nias 

their sons , , ^ '^ 

in Nias. the eldest son usually succeeds his father in the chieftainship. 
But if from any bodily or mental defect the eldest son is 
disqualified for ruling, the father determines in his life- 
time which of his sons shall succeed him. In order, however, 
to establish his right of succession, it is necessary that the 
son upon whom his father's choice falls shall catch in his 
mouth or in a bag the last breath, and with it the soul, of 
the dying chief. For whoever catches his last breath is 
chief equally with the appointed successor. Hence the 
other brothers, and sometimes also strangers, crowd round 
the dying man to catch his soul as it passes. The houses 
in Nias are raised above the ground on posts, and it has 

' See above, pp. 21, 23, 26 sq. 
^ See The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings, ii. 410 sqq. 


happened that when the dying man lay with his face on 
the floor, one of the candidates has bored a hole in the floor 
and sucked in the chief's last breath through a bamboo 
tube. When the chief has no son, his soul is caught in a 
bag, which is fastened to an image made to represent the 
deceased ; the soul is then believed to pass into the image.^ 

Amongst the Takilis or Carrier Indians of North- West Succession 
America, when a corpse was burned the priest pretended to amMg^he 
catch the soul of the deceased in his hands, which he closed American 
with many gesticulations. He then communicated the^ndmher 
captured soul to the dead man's successor by throwing his races. 
hands towards and blowing upon him. The person to whom 
the soul was thus communicated took the name and rank of 
the deceased. On the death of a chief the priest thus filled 
a responsible and influential position, for he might transmit 
the soul to whom he would, though doubtless he generally 
followed the regular line of succession.^ In Guatemala, when 
a great man lay at the point of death, they put a precious 
stone between his lips to receive the parting soul, and 
this was afterwards kept as a memorial by his nearest 
kinsman or most intimate friend.' Algonquin women who 
wished to become mothers flocked to the side of a dying 
person in the hope of receiving and being impregnated by 
the passing soul. Amongst the Seminoles of Florida when 
a woman died in childbed the infant was held over her face 
to receive her parting spirit.* When infants died within a 
month or two of birth, the Huron Indians did not lay them 
in bark coffins on poles, as they did with other corpses, but 
buried them beside the paths, in order that they might 
secretly enter into the wombs of passing women and be born 

' J. T. NieuwenhuisenenH. C. B. von 277, 479 jy.; id., L'Isola delle Donne 

Rosenberg, " Verslag omtrent het eiland (Milan, 1894), p. 195. 

Nias," Verhandelingen van het Batav. ^ Ch. Wilkes, Narrative of the 

Genootschap van Kunsten en Weten- United States Exploring Expedition 

schappen, xxx. (1863) p. 85; H. von (London, 1845), iv. 453; United States 

Rosenberg, Der Malayische Archipel, Exploring Expedition, Ethnography 

p. 160 ; L. N. H. A. Chatelin, and Philology, by H. Hale (Pliila- 

"Godsdienst enbijgeloofder Niassers," delphia, 1846), p. 203. 

Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal- Land- en ^ Brasseur de Bourbourg, Histoire 

Volkenkunde, xxvi. (1880) pp. 142 sq.; des nations civilisies du Mexique et de 

H. Sundermann, "Die Insel Nias und P Amirique-Centrale, ii. 574. 

die Mission daselbst," Allgemeine Mis- * D. G. Brinton, Myths of the New 

sions-Zeitschrift, xi. (1884) p. 445 ; World"^ (New York, 1876), pp. 270 

E. Modigliani, Un Viaggio a Nias, pp. sq. 




to the soul 
in Africa. 

of dead 
kings in 

again.^ The Tonquinese cover the face of a dying person 
with a handkerchief, and at the moment when he breathes 
his last, they fold up the handkerchief carefully, thinking 
that they have caught the soul in it.^ The Romans caught 
the breath of dying friends in their mouths, and so received 
into themselves the soul of the departed.^ The same custom 
is said to be still practised in Lancashire.* 

On the seventh day after the death of a king of Gingiro 
the sorcerers bring to his successor, wrapt in a piece of silk, 
a worm which they say comes from the nose of the dead 
king ; and they make the new king kill the worm by 
squeezing its head between his teeth.^ The ceremony seems 
to be intended to convey the spirit of the deceased monarch 
to his successor. The Danakil or Afars of eastern Africa 
believe that the soul of a magician will be born again in the 
first male descendant of the man who was most active in 
attending on the dying magician in his last hours. Hence 
when a magician is ill he receives many attentions.^ In 
Uganda the spirit of the king who had been the last to die 
manifested itself from time to time in the person of a priest, 
who was prepared for the discharge of this exalted function by 
a peculiar ceremony. When the body of the king had been 
embalmed and had lain for five months in the tomb, which 
was a house built specially for it, the head was severed from 
the body and laid in an ant-hill. Having been stript of flesh 
by the insects, the skull was washed in a particular river (the 
Ndyabuworu) and filled with native beer. One of the late 
king's priests then drank the beer out of the skull and thus 
became himself a vessel meet to receive the spiritof the deceased 
monarch. The skull was afterwards replaced in the tomb, but 
the lower jaw was separated from it and deposited in a jar ; and 
this jar, being swathed in bark-cloth and decorated with beads 

1 Relations desjisuites, 1636, p. 130 
(Canadian reprint, Quebec, 1858). 

2 A. Bastian, Die Voelker des oest- 
lichen Asien, iv. 386. 

' Servius on Virgil, Am. iv. 685 ; 
Cicero, /« Verr. ii. 5- 4S ! K- F' 
Hermann, Lekrbuch der grieckischen 
Privataltertkiimer, ed. H. Bliimner, 
p. 362, note 1. 

* J. Harland and T. T. Wilkinson, 

Lancashire Folk-lore (London, 1882), 
pp._ 7 sq. 

° The Travels of the Jesuits in 
Ethiopia, collected and historically 
digested by F. Balthazar Tellez (Lon- 
don, 1710), p. 198. 

^ Ph. Paulitschke, Ethnographie 
Nordost-Afrikas, die geistige Cultur der 
Dan&kil, Galla und Som&l (Berlin, 
1896), p. 28. 


so as to look like a man, henceforth represented the late 
king. A house was built for its reception in the shape of a 
beehive and divided into two rooms, an inner and an outer. 
Any person might enter the outer room, but in the inner 
room the spirit of the dead king was supposed to dwell. In 
front of the partition was set a throne covered with lion and 
leopard skins, and fenced off from the rest of the chamber 
by a rail of spears, shields, and knives, most of them made of 
copper and brass, and beautifully worked. When the priest, 
who had fitted himself to receive the king's spirit, desired to 
converse with the people in the king's name, he went to the 
throne and addressing the spirit in the inner room informed 
him of the business in hand. Then he smoked one or two 
pipes of tobacco, and in a few minutes began to rave, which 
was a sign that the spirit had entered into him. In this 
condition he spoke with the voice and made known the 
wishes of the late king. When he had done so, the spirit 
left him and returned into the inner room, and he himself 
departed a mere man as before.' Every year at the new 
moon of September the king of Sofala in eastern Africa used 
to perform obsequies for the kings, his predecessors, on the 
top of a high mountain, where they were buried. In the 
course of the lamentations for the dead, the soul of the king 
who had died last used to enter into a man who imitated 
the deceased monarch, both in voice and gesture. The living 
king conversed with this man as with his dead father, con- 
sulting him in regard to the affairs of the kingdom and 
receiving his oracular replies.^ These examples shew that 
provision is often made for the ghostly succession of kings 
and chiefs. In the Hausa kingdom of Daura, in Northern 
Nigeria, where the kings used regularly to be put to death 
on the first symptoms of failing health, the new king had to 
step over the corpse of his predecessor and to be bathed in 
the blood of a black ox, the skin of which then served as 
a shroud for the body of the late king.^ The ceremony 

' This account I received from my however, the account is in some points 
friend the Rev. J. Roscoe in a letter not quite so explicit. 

dated Mengo, Uganda April 27, 2 j. Do^ Santos,"Eastern Ethiopia," 

1900. See his " Further Notes on the .^ ^J j^^^^,^ ^,^^^^,^ ^^^^^^^ V^^^_ 

Manners and Customs of the Baganda ^^^^^^.^ ^... 

Joumalof the Anthropological Institute, ■' ' 

xxxii. (1902) pp. 42, 45 sq., where, ^ See above, p. 35. 


may well have been intended to convey the spirit of the 
dead king to his successor. Certainly we know that many 
primitive peoples attribute a magical virtue to the act of 
stepping over a person.^ 
Right of Sometimes it would appear that the spiritual link 

succession ^ ^ . _ . 

to the king- between a king and the souls of his predecessors is formed 
ferred b" ^^ ^^ possession of some part of their persons. In southern 
possession Celebes, as we have seen, the regalia often consist of cor- 
reiicrof"''' poreal portions of deceased rajahs, which are treasured as 
dead kings, sacred relics and confer the right to the throne.^ Similarly 
among the Sakalavas of southern Madagascar a vertebra of 
the neck, a nail, and a lock of hair of a deceased king are 
placed in a crocodile's tooth and carefully kept along with 
the similar relics of his predecessors in a house set apart 
for the purpose. The possession of these relics constitutes 
the right to the throne. A legitimate heir who should be 
deprived of them would lose all his authority over the people, 
and on the contrary a usurper who should make himself 
master of the relics would be acknowledged king without 
dispute. It has sometimes happened that a relation of 
the reigning monarch has stolen the crocodile teeth with 
their precious contents, and then had himself proclaimed 
king. Accordingly, when the Hovas invaded the country, 
knowing the superstition of the natives, they paid less 
attention to the living king than to the relics of the dead, 
which they publicly exhibited under a strong guard on pre- 
text of paying them the honours that were their due.^ In 
antiquity, when a king of the Panebian Libyans died, his 
people buried the body but cut off the head, and having 
covered it with gold they dedicated it in a sanctuary.* 
Among the Masai of East Africa, when an important chief 
has been dead and buried for a year, his eldest son or other 

^ See Taboo and the Perils of the Scythia used to gild the skulls of their 

Soul, pp. 423 sqq. dead fathers and offer great sacrifices to 

2 See The Magic Art and the Evolu- them annually (Herodotus, iv. 26) ; 

tion of Kings, i. 362 sqq. they also used the skulls as drinking- 

^ A. Grandidier, "Madagascar," cups (Mela, ii. i. 9). The Boii of 

Bull. delaSociHideGiographie{^i.x\%], Cisalpine Gaul cut off the head of 

VIeme Serie, iii. (1872) pp. 402 sq. a Roman general whom they had de- 

* Nicolaus Damascenus, quoted by feated, and having gilded the scalp 

Stobaeiis, Florilegium, cxxiii. 1 2 [Frag- they used it as a sacred vessel for the 

menta historicorum Graecm-um, ed. C. pouring of libations, and the priests 

Miiller, iii. 463). The Issedones of drank out of it (Livy, xxiii. 24. 12). 


successor removes the skull of the deceased, while he at the 
same time offers a sacrifice and a libation with goat's blood, 
milk, and honey. He then carefully secrets the skull, the 
possession of which is understood to confirm him in power 
and to impart to him some of the wisdom of his predecessor.^ 
When the Alake or king of Abeokuta in West Africa dies, 
the principal men decapitate his body, and placing the head 
in a large earthen vessel deliver it to the new sovereign ; it 
becomes his fetish and he is bound to pay it honours.^ 
Similarly, when the Jaga or King of Cassange, in Angola, 
has departed this life, an official extracts a tooth from the 
deceased monarch and presents it to his successor, who 
deposits it along with the teeth of former kings in a box, 
which is the sole property of the crown and without which no 
Jaga can legitimately exercise the regal power.^ Sometimes, Sometimes 
in order apparently that the new sovereign may inherit more \^^^^^ 
surely the magical and other virtues of the royal line, he is portion of 
required to eat a piece of his dead predecessor. Thus at decessor 
Abeokuta not only was the head of the late king presented 
to his successor, but the tongue was cut out and given him 
to eat. Hence, when the natives wish to signify that the 
sovereign reigns, they say, " He has eaten the king." * A 
custom of the same sort is still practised at Ibadan, a large 
town in the interior of Lagos, West Africa. When the king 
dies his head is cut off and sent to his nominal suzerain, the 
Alafin of Oyo, the paramount king of Yoruba land ; but his 
heart is eaten by his successor. This ceremony was performed 
a few years ago at the accession of a new king of Ibadan.^ 

1 Sir H. Johnston, The Uganda Traveller's Life in Western Africa, ii. 
Protectorate (London, 1902), ii. 828. 161 sq. 

2 Missionary Holley, " :^tude sur * Missionary Holley, in Annates 
les Egbas," Missions Catholiques, xiii. de la Propagation di la Foi, liv. (1882) 
(1881) p. 353. The writer speaks of p. 87. The " King of Ake " mentioned 
"/« roi t^Alakei," but this is probably by the writer is the Alake or king of 
a mistake or a misprint. As to the Abeokuta ; for Ake is the principal 
Alake or king of Abeokuta, see Sir quarter of Abeokuta, and Alake means 
William Macgregor," Lagos, Abeokuta, "Lord of Ake." See Sir William 
and ihe Alake," Journal of the African Macgregor, I.e. 

Society, No. xii. (July, 1904) pp. 471 * Extracted from a letter of Mr. 

$gi. Some years ago the Alake visited Harold G. Parsons, dated Lagos, 

England and I had the honour of being September 28th, 1903, and addressed 

presented to his Majesty by Sir William to Mr. Theodore A. Cooke of 54 Oakley 

Macgregor at Cambridge. Street, Chelsea, London, who was so 

2 F. T. Valdez, Six Years of a kind as to send me the letter with leave 




to the soul 
of the slain 
king or 

Taking the whole of the preceding evidence into account, 
we may fairly suppose that when the divine king or priest 
is put to death his spirit is believed to pass into his successor. 
In point of fact we have .seen that among the Shilluk of 
the White Nile, who regularly kill their divine kings, every 
king on his accession has to perform a ceremony which 
appears designed to convey to him the same sacred and 
worshipful spirit which animated all his predecessors, one 
after the other, on the throne.^ 

to make use of it. " It is usual for 
great chiefs to report or announce their 
succession to the Oni of Ife, or to the 
Alafin of Oyo, the intimation being 
accompanied by a. present" (Sir W. 
Macgregor, I.e.). 

• See above, pp. 23, 26 sq. Dr. E. 
Westermarck has suggested as an alter- 
native to the theory in the text, "that 
the new king is supposed to inherit, 
not the predecessor's soul, but his 
divinity or holiness, which is looked 
upon in the light of a mysterious 
entity, temporarily seated in the ruling 

sovereign, but separable from him and 
transferable to another individual." 
See his article, " The Killing of the 
Divine King," Man, viii. (1908) pp. 
22-24. There is a good deal to be 
said in favour of Dr. Westermarck's 
theory, which is supported in particular 
by the sanctity attributed to the regalia. 
But on the whole I see no sufficient 
reason to abandon the view adopted in 
the text, and I am confirmed in it by 
the Shilluk evidence, which was un- 
knovm to Dr. Westermarck when he 
propounded his theory. 



§ I. The Whitsuntide Mummers 

It remains to ask what light the custom of killing the divine The single 
king or priest sheds upon the special subject of our enquiry. In jh^K^' °' 
the first part of this work we saw reason to suppose that the of the 
King of the Wood at Nemi was regarded as an incarnation of ^°^f^^ 
a tree-spirit or of the spirit of vegetation, and that as such probably a 
he would be endowed, in the belief of his worshippers, with a ™an o'lder 
magical power of making the trees to bear fruit, the crops custom of 
to grow, and so on} His life must therefore have been held him to 
very precious by his worshippers, and was probably hedged "^^^^ ^' 

,., ° the end of 

m by a system of elaborate precautions or taboos like those a fixed 
by which, in so many places, the life of the man-god has P^"""^- 
been guarded against the malignant influence of demons 
and sorcerers. But we have seen that the very value 
attached to the life of the man-god necessitates his violent 
death as the only means of preserving it from the inevitable 
decay of age. The same reasoning would apply to the 
King of the Wood ; he, too, had to be killed in order that 
the divine spirit, incarnate in him, might be transferred in 
its integrity to his successor. The rule that he held office 
till a stronger should slay him might be supposed to 
secure both the preservation of his divine life in full vigour 
and its transference to a suitable successor as soon as that 
vigour began to be impaired. For so long as he could 
maintain his position by the strong hand, it might be in- 
ferred that his natural force was not abated ; whereas his 

1 See The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings, i. i sqq., ii. 378 sqq. 



defeat and death at the hands of another proved that his 
strength was beginning to fail and that it was time his 
divine life should be lodged in a less dilapidated tabernacle. 
This explanation of the rule that the King of the Wood had 
to be slain by his successor at least renders that rule per- 
fectly intelligible. It is strongly supported by the theory 
and practice of the ShiUuk, who put their divine king to 
death at the first signs of failing health, lest his decrepitude 
should entail a corresponding failure of vital energy on the 
corn, the cattle, and men.' Moreover, it is countenanced 
by the analogy of the Chitom6, upon whose life the existence 
of the world was supposed to hang, and who was therefore 
slain by his successor as soon as he shewed signs of break- 
ing up. Again, the terms on which in later times the King 
of Calicut held office are identical with those attached to the 
office of King of the Wood, except that whereas the former 
might be assailed by a candidate at any time, the King of 
Calicut might only be attacked once every twelve years. 
But as the leave granted to the King of Calicut to reign so 
long as he could defend himself against all comers was a 
mitigation of the old rule which set a fixed term to -his life,^ 
so we may conjecture that the similar permission granted 
to the King of the Wood was a mitigation of an older 
custom of putting him to death at the end of a definite period. 
In both cases the new rule gave to the god-man at least a 
chance for his life, which under the old rule was denied him ; 
and people probably reconciled themselves to the change by 
reflecting that so long as the god-man could maintain him- 
self by the sword against all assaults, there was no reason 
to apprehend that the fatal decay had set in. 
Custom of The conjecture that the King of the Wood was formerly 
human *^ put to death at the expiry of a fixed term, without being 
representa- allowed a chance for his life, will be confirmed if evidence 
tree^spirit.^ Can be adduced of a custom of periodically killing his 
counterparts, the human representatives of the tree-spirit, in 
Northern Europe. Now in point of fact such a custom has 
left unmistakable traces of itself in the rural festivals of the 
peasantry. To take examples. 

At Niederp5ring, in Lower Bavaria, the Whitsuntide 

1 See above, pp. 21 sq., 27 sq. ^ See above, pp. 47 sq. 


representative of the tree-spirit — the Pfingstl as he was Bavarian 
called — ^was clad from top to toe in leaves and flowers. ^"^g°JJ5fng 
On his head he wore a high pointed cap, the ends of which the repre- 
rested on his shoulders, only two holes being left in it for of^'he'Tree- 
his eyes. The cap was covered with water -flowers and spirit at 
surmounted with a nosegay of peonies. The sleeves of his suntide. 
coat were also made of water-plants, and the rest of his 
body was enveloped in alder and hazel leaves. On each 
side of him marched a boy holding up one of the PfingstPs 
arms. These two boys carried drawn swords, and so did 
most of the others who formed the procession. They stopped 
at every house where they hoped to receive a present ; and 
the people, in hiding, soused the leaf-clad boy with water. 
All rejoiced when he was well drenched. Finally he waded 
into the brook up to his middle ; whereupon one of the 
boys, standing on the bridge, pretended to cut off his head.^ 
At Wurmlingen, in Swabia, a score of young fellows dress 
themselves on Whit -Monday in white shirts and white 
trousers, with red scarves round their waists and swords 
hanging from the scarves. They ride on horseback into 
the wood, led by two trumpeters blowing their trumpets. 
In the wood they cut down leafy oak branches, in which 
they envelop from head to foot him who was the last of 
their number to ride out of the village. His legs, however, 
are encased separately, so that he may be able to mount 

1 Fr. Panzer, Beitrag zur deutschen In Silesia the Whitsuntide mummer, 

Mythologie (Munich, 1848-1855), i. called the Raiichfiess or Raupfiess, 

23s sq. ; W. Mannhardt, Baum- sometimes stands in a leafy arbour, 

kultus (Berlin, 1875), pp. 320 sq. which is mounted on a cart and drawn 

In some villages of Lower Bavaria about the village by four or six lads. 

one of the Pfingstrs comrades carries They collect gifts at the houses and 

"theMay," which is a young birch-tree finally throw the cart and the Rauch- 

wreathed and decorated. Anothername fiess into a shallow pool outside the 

for this Whitsuntide masker, both in village. This is called "driving out 

Lower and Upper Bavaria, is the Water- the Rauchfiess." The custom used to 

bird. Sometimes he carries a straw effigy be associated with the driving out of the 

of a monstrous bird with a long neck and cattle at Whitsuntide to pasture on the 

a wooden beak, which is thrown into dewy grass, which was thought to make 

the water instead of the bearer. The the cows yield plenty of milk. The 

wooden beak is afterwards nailed to herdsman who was the last to drive out 

the ridge of a barn, which it is sup- his beasts on the morning of the day 

posed to protect against lightning and became the Rauchfiess in the afternoon, 

fire for a whole year, till the next See P. Drechsler, Sitte, Branch und 

Pfingstl makes his appearance. See Volksglaube in Schlesien, i. (Leipsic, 

•Bavaria, Landes- und Volkskunde des 1903), pp. 1 17-123. 
Konigreichs Bayern, i. 375 i-?., 1003 sq. 


his horse again. Further, they give him a long artificial 
neck, with an artificial head and a false face on the top of 
it. Then a May -tree is cut, generally an aspen or beech 
about ten feet high ; and being decked with coloured hand- 
kerchiefs and ribbons it is entrusted to a special " May- 
bearer." The cavalcade then returns with music and song 
to the village. Amongst the personages who figure in the 
procession are a Moorish king with a sooty face and a 
crown on his head, a Dr. Iron-Beard, a corporal, and an 
executioner. They halt on the village green, and each of 
the characters makes a speech in rhyme. The executioner 
announces that the leaf-clad man has been condemned to 
death, and cuts off his false head. Then the riders race to 
the May-tree, which has been set up a little way off. The 
first man who succeeds in wrenching it from the ground as 
he gallops past keeps it with all its decorations. The 
ceremony is observed every second or third year.^ 
Killing the In Saxony and Thuringen there is a Whitsuntide cere- 

in Saxony mony Called " chasing the Wild Man out of the bush," or 
and " fetching the Wild Man out of the Wood." A young fellow 

is enveloped in leaves or moss and called the Wild Man. 
He hides in the wood and the other lads of the village go 
out to seek him. They find him, lead him captive out of 
the wood, and fire at him with blank muskets. He falls 
like dead to the ground, but a lad dressed as a doctor bleeds 
him, and he comes to life again. At this they rejoice, and, 
binding him fast on a waggon, take him to the village, 
where they tell all the people how they have caught the 
Wild Man. At every house they receive a gift.^ In the 
Erzgebirge the following custom was annually observed at 
Shrovetide about the beginning of the seventeenth century. 
Two men disguised as Wild Men, the one in brushwood and 
moss, the other in straw, were led about the streets, and at 
last taken to the market-place, where they were chased up 
and down, shot and stabbed. Before falling they reeled 
about with strange gestures and spirted blood on the people 

* E. Meier, Deutsche Sagen, Sitten 2 g Sommer, Sagen, Mdrchen und 

und Gebrdiicke aus Schwaben {Stutt- Gebrduche aus Sachsen und Thilringen 

gart, 1852), pp. 409-419; W. Mann- (Halle, 1846), pp. 154 sq.; W. Mann- 

hardt, Baumkullus, pp. 349 sq. hardt, BaumkuUus, pp. 335 sq. 


from bladders which they carried. When they were down, 
the huntsmen placed them on boards and carried them to 
the ale-house, the miners marching beside them and winding 
blasts on their mining tools as if they had taken a noble 
head of game.^ A very similar Shrovetide custom is still 
observed near Schluckenau in Bohemia. A man dressed 
up as a Wild Man is chased through several streets till he 
comes to a narrow lane across which a cord is stretched. 
He stumbles over the cord and, falling to the ground, is 
overtaken and caught by his pursuers. The executioner 
runs up and stabs with his sword a bladder filled with blood 
which the Wild Man wears round his body ; so the Wild 
Man dies, while a stream of blood reddens the ground. 
Next day a straw-man, made up to look like the Wild Man, 
is placed on a litter, and, accompanied by a great crowd, is 
taken to a pool into which it is thrown by the executioner. 
The ceremony is called " burying the Carnival." ^ 

In Semic (Bohemia) the custom of beheading the King Beheading 
is observed on Whit-Monday. A troop of young people on^^{,°f, 
disguise themselves ; each is girt with a girdle of bark and Monday in 
carries a wooden sword and a trumpet of willow-bark. The ° ^'"'^' 
King wears a robe of tree-bark adorned with flowers, on his 
head is a crown of bark decked with flowers and branches, 
his feet are wound about with ferns, a mask hides his face, 
and for a sceptre he has a hawthorn switch in his hand. A 
lad leads him through the village by a rope fastened to his 
foot, while the rest dance about, blow their trumpets, and 
whistle. In every farmhouse the King is chased round the 
room, and one of the troop, amid much noise and outcry, 
strikes with his sword a blow on the King's robe of bark 
till it rings again. Then a gratuity is demanded.^ The 
ceremony of decapitation, which is here somewhat slurred 
over, is carried out with a greater semblance of reality in 
other parts of Bohemia. Thus in some villages of the 
Koniggratz district on Whit-Monday the girls assemble under 
one lime-tree and the young men under another, all dressed 

1 W. Mannhardt, Batttnkultus, p. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, pp. 336 
336. sq. 

2 Reinsberg-DUringsfeld, Fest-Ka- ^ Reinsberg-DUringsfeld, Fest-Ka- 
lender aus BShmen (Prague, N.D., lender aus Bdkmen, -p. 26-^ ; "^ . Maim- 
preface dated 1861), p. 61 ; W. hardt, Baumkultus, p. 343. 

PT. Ill ' P 


in their best and tricked out with ribbons. The young men 
twine a garland for the Queen, and the girls another for the 
King. When they have chosen the King and Queen they 
all go in procession, two and two, to the ale-house, from the 
balcony of which the crier proclaims the names of the King 
and Queen. Both are then invested with the insignia of 
their office and are crowned with the garlands, while the 
music plays up. Then some one gets on a bench and 
accuses the King of various offences, such as ill-treating the 
cattle. The King appeals to witnesses and a trial ensues, at 
the close of which the judge, who carries a white wand as 
his badge of office, pronounces a verdict of "Guilty" or "Not 
guilty." If the verdict is " Guilty," the judge breaks his 
wand, the King kneels on a white cloth, all heads are bared, 
and a soldier sets three or four hats, one above the other, on 
his Majesty's head. The judge then pronounces the word 
" Guilty " thrice in a loud voice, and orders the crier to 
behead the King. The crier obeys by striking off the King's 
hats with his wooden sword.^ 
Beheading But perhaps, for our purpose, the most instructive of 

^jj^-^fj"^ these mimic executions is the following Bohemian one, 
Monday in which has been in part described already.^ In some places 
o emia. ^^ ^^ Pilsen district (Bohemia) on Whit-Monday the King 
is dressed in bark, ornamented with flowers and ribbons ; he 
wears a crown of gilt paper and rides a horse, which is also 
decked with flowers. Attended by a judge, an executioner, 
and other characters, and followed by a train of soldiers, all 
mounted, he rides to the village square, where a hut or 
arbour of green boughs has been erected under the May- 
trees, which are firs, freshly cut, peeled to the top, and 
dressed with flowers and ribbons. After the dames and 
maidens of the village have been criticised and a frog 
beheaded, in the way already described, the cavalcade rides 
to a place previously determined upon, in a straight, broad 
street. Here they draw up in two lines and the King takes 
to flight. He is given a short start and rides off at full 
speed, pursued by the whole troop. If they fail to catch 
him he remains King for another year, and his companions 

1 Reinsberg-Duringsfeld, Fest-Ka- ^ The Magic Art and the Evolution 

lender aus Bdhmen, pp. 269 sq. of Kings, ii. 86 sq. 


must pay his score at the ale-house in the evening. But if 
they overtake and catch him he is scourged with hazel rods 
or beaten with the wooden swords and compelled to dis- 
mount. Then the executioner asks, " Shall I behead this 
King ? " The answer is given, " Behead him " ; the execu- 
tioner brandishes his axe, and with the words, " One, two, 
three, let the King headless be ! " he strikes off the King's 
crown. Amid the loud cries of the bystanders the King 
sinks to the ground ; then he is laid on a bier and carried 
to the nearest farmhouse.^ 

In most of the personages who are thus slain in mimicry The leaf- 
it is impossible not to recognise representatives of the tree- ^gfsTn "^ 
spirit or spirit of vegetation, as he is supposed to manifest these 
himself in spring. The bark, leaves, and flowers in which represent 
the actors are dressed, and the season of the year at which 'he tree- 
they appear, shew that they belong to the same class as the spl^t of 
Grass King, King of the May, Jack-in-the-Green, and other vegetation, 
representatives of the vernal spirit of vegetation which we 
examined in the first part of this work.^ As if to remove 
any possible doubt on this head, we find that in two 
cases ^ these slain men are brought into direct connexion 
with May -trees, which are the impersonal, as the May 
King, Grass King, and so forth, are the personal representa- 
tives of the tree-spirit. The drenching of the Pfingstl with 
water and his wading up to the middle into the brook are, 
therefore, no doubt rain-charms like those which have been 
already described.* 

But if these personages represent, as they certainly do, The tree- 
the spirit of vegetation in spring, the question arises. Why ^?[["j '^^^ 
kill them ? What is the object of slaying the spirit of vege- order to 
tation at any time and above all in spring, when his services decIy"L'd 
are most wanted ? The only probable answer to this ques- ensure its 
tion seems to be given in the explanation already proposed vigorous" ^ 
of the custom of killing the divine king or priest. The successor. 
divine life, incarnate in a material and mortal body, is liable 
to be tainted and corrupted by the weakness of the frail 

1 Reinsberg-Diiringsfeld, Fest-Ka- tion of Kings, \\. "]■}, sqq. 
lender aus Bohmen, pp. 264 sq. ; W. ^ See pp. 208, 210. 
Mannhardt, Baumkultus, pp. m sq- ' * The Magic Art and the Evolution 

2 See The Magic Art and the Evolu- of Kings, i. 247 sqq., 272 sqq. 


medium in which it is for a time enshrined ; and if it is to 
be saved from the increasing enfeeblement which it must 
necessarily share with its human incarnation as he advances 
in years, it must be detached from him before, or at least as 
soon as, he exhibits signs of decay, in order to be transferred 
to a vigorous successor. This is done by killing the old 
representative of the god and conveying the divine spirit 
from him to a new incarnation. The killing of the god, that 
is, of his human incarnation, is therefore merely a necessary 
step to his revival or resurrection in a better form. Far 
from being an extinction of the divine spirit, it is only the 
beginning of a purer and stronger manifestation of it. If 
this explanation holds good of the custom of killing divine 
kings and priests in general, it is still more obviously 
applicable to the custom of annually killing the representa- 
tive of the tree-spirit or spirit of vegetation in spring. For 
the decay of plant life in winter is readily interpreted by 
primitive man as an enfeeblement of the spirit of vegetation ; 
the spirit has, he thinks, grown old and weak and must 
therefore be renovated by being slain and brought to life in 
a younger and fresher form. Thus the killing of the repre- 
sentative of the tree-spirit in spring is regarded as a means 
to promote and quicken the growth of vegetation. For the 
killing of the tree -spirit is associated always (we must 
suppose) implicitly, and sometimes explicitly also, with a 
revival or resurrection of him in a more youthful and 
vigorous form. So in the Saxon and Thiiringen custom, 
after the Wild Man has been shot he is brought to life 
again by a doctor ; ^ and in the Wurmlingen ceremony there 
figures a Dr. Iron -Beard, who probably once played a 
similar part ; certainly in another spring ceremony, which 
will be described presently. Dr. Iron-Beard pretends to restore 
a dead man to life. But of this revival or resurrection of 
the god we shall have more to say anon. 
Resem- The points of similarity between these North European 

between pcrsonages and the subject of our enquiry — the King of 
these the Wood or priest of Nemi — are sufficiently striking. In 

European these northern maskers we see kings, whose dress of bark 
customs and leaves, along with the hut of green boughs and the 

' See above, p. 208. 



fir-trees under which they hold their court, proclaim them and the 
unmistakably as, like their Italian counterpart. Kings of"'^^°^ 
the Wood. Like him they die a violent death, but like 
him they may escape from it for a time by their bodily 
strength and agility ; for in several of these northern customs 
the flight and pursuit of the king is a prominent part of the 
ceremony, and in one case at least if the king can outrun 
his pursuers he retains his life and his office for another 
year. In this last case the king in fact holds office on 
condition of running for his life once a year, just as the 
King of Calicut in later times held office on condition of 
defending his life against all comers once every twelve years, 
and just as the priest of Nemi held office on condition of 
defending himself against any assault at any time. In every 
one of these instances the life of the god-man is prolonged 
on condition of his shewing, in a severe physical contest of 
fight or flight, that his bodily strength is not decayed, and 
that, therefore, the violent death, which sooner or later is in- 
evitable, may for the present be postponed. With regard 
to flight it is noticeable that flight figured conspicuously both 
in the legend and in the practice of the King of the Wood. 
He had to be a runaway slave in memory of the flight of 
Orestes, the traditional founder of the worship ; hence the 
Kings of the Wood are described by an ancient writer as 
" both strong of hand and fleet of foot." ^ Perhaps if we 
knew the ritual of the Arician grove fully we might find that 
the king was allowed a chance for his life by flight, like his 
Bohemian brother. I have already conjectured that the 
annual flight of the priestly king at Rome {regifugium) was 
at first a flight of the same kind ; in other words, that he 
was originally one of those divine kings who are either put 
to death after a fixed period or allowed to prove by the 
strong hand or the fleet foot that their divinity is vigorous 
and unimpaired.^ One more point of resemblance may be 
noted between the Italian King of the Wood and his northern 
counterparts. In Saxony and Thliringen the representative 
of the tree-spirit, after being killed, is brought to life again 
by a doctor. This is exactly what legend affirmed to have 

' Ovid, Fasti, iii. 271. 
2 See The Magic Art and the EvohUion of Kings, ii. 308 sqq. 




happened to the first King of the Wood at Nemi, Hippolytus 
or Virbius, who after he had been killed by his horses was 
restored to life by the physician Aesculapius.^ Such a 
legend tallies well with the theory that the slaying of the 
King of the Wood was only a step to his revival or resurrec- 
tion in his successor. 

The mock 
killing of 
the leaf- 
clad mum- 
mers is 
probably a 
for an old 
custom of 
them in 

tion of 
for real 

8 2. Mock Human Sacrifices 

In the preceding discussion it has been assumed that 
the mock killing of the Wild Man and of the King in 
North European folk-custom is a modern substitute for 
an ancient custom of killing them in earnest. Those who 
best know the tenacity of life possessed by folk -custom 
and its tendency, with the growth of civilisation, to dwindle 
from solemn ritual into mere pageant and pastime, will 
be least likely to question the truth of this assumption. 
That human sacrifices were commonly offered by the 
ancestors of the civilised races of North Europe, Celts, 
Teutons, and Slavs, is certain.^ It is not, therefore, sur- 
prising that the modern peasant should do in mimicry what 
his forefathers did in reality. We know as a matter of 
fact that in other parts of the world mock human sacrifices 
have been substituted for real ones. Thus in Minahassa, a 
district of Celebes, human victims used to be regularly sacri- 
ficed at certain festivals, but through Dutch influence the 
custom was abolished and a sham sacrifice substituted for it. 
The victim was seated in a chair and all the usual prepara- 
tions were made for sacrificing him, but at the critical 
moment, when the chief priest had heaved up his flashing 
swords (for he wielded two of them) to deal the fatal stroke, 
his assistants sprang forward, their hands wrapt in cloths, to 
grasp and arrest the descending blades. The precaution was 
necessary, for the priest was wound up to such a pitch of 
excitement that if left alone he might have consummated 

* See The Magic Art and the Evolu- 
tion of Kings, i. 20. 

2 Caesar, Bell. Gall. vi. l6 ; Adam 
of Bremen, Descriptio Insnlarum 
Aquiloiiis, 27 (Migne's Patrologia 
Latina, cxlvi. col. 644) ; Olaus Mag- 

nus, De gentium septrionalium variis 
conditionibus, iii. 7 ; J. Grimm, 
Deutsche Mythologie,^ i. 35 sqq. ; F. 
J. Mone, Geschichte des nordischen 
Heidenthums, i. 69, iig, 120, 149, 
187 sq. 


the sacrifice. Afterwards an effigy, made out of the stem of 
a banana-tree, was substituted for the human victim ; and 
the blood, which might not be wanting, was supplied by 
fowls.^ Near the native town of Luba, in western Busoga, 
a district of central Africa, there is a sacred tree of the 
species known as Parinarium. Its glossy white trunk shoots 
up to a height of a hundred feet before it sends out branches. 
The tree is surrounded by small fetish huts and curious 
arcades. Once when the dry season was drawing to an end 
and the new crops were not yet ripe, the Basoga suffered 
from hunger. So they came to the sacred tree in canoes, of 
which the prows were decked with wreaths of yellow acacia 
blossom and other flowers. Landing on the shore they 
stripped themselves of their clothing and wrapped ropes 
made of green creepers and leaves round their arms and 
necks. At the foot of the tree they danced to an accompani- 
ment of song. Then a little girl, about ten years old, was 
brought and laid at the base of the tree as if she were to be 
sacrificed. Every detail of the sacrifice was gone through in 
mimicry. A slight cut was made in the child's neck, and 
she was then caught up and thrown into the lake, where a 
man stood ready to save her from drowning. By native 
custom the girl on whom this ceremony had been performed 
was dedicated to a life of perpetual virginity.^ Captain 
Bourke was informed by an old chief that the Indians of 
Arizona used to offer human sacrifices at the Feast of Fire 
when the days are shortest. The victim had his throat 
cut, his breast opened, and his heart taken out by one 
of the priests. This custom was abolished by the Mexicans, 
but for a long time afterwards a modified form of it was 
secretly observed as follows. The victim, generally a young 
man, had his throat cut, and blood was allowed to flow 
freely; but the medicine -men sprinkled "medicine" on 
the gash, which soon healed up, and the man recovered.^ 
So in the ritual of Artemis at Halae in Attica, a man's 

1 H. J. Tendeloo, "Verklaring van Protectorate l^oxAcm, 1902), ii. Tl^sq. 
het zoogenaamd Oud-Alfoersch Teeken- The writer describes the ceremony from 
schrift," Mededeelingen van wege het the testimony of an eye-witness. 
NecUrlandsche Zendelinggenootschap, 

xxxvi. (1892) pp. 338 sq. ' J. G. Bourke, Snake Dance of the 

2 Sir H. Johnston, The Uganda Moquis of Arizona, pp. 196 sq. 


Mock throat was cut and the blood allowed to gush out, but he 
sacrifices, ^as not killed.^ At the funeral of a chief in Nias slaves 
are sacrificed ; a little of their hair is cut off, and then they 
are beheaded. The victims are generally purchased for the 
purpose, and their number is proportioned to the wealth and 
power of the deceased. But if the number required is 
excessively great or cannot be procured, some of the chiefs 
own slaves undergo a sham sacrifice. They are told, and 
believe, that they are about to be decapitated ; their heads 
are placed on a log and their necks struck with the back of 
a sword. The fright drives some of them crazy.^ When a 
Hindoo has killed or ill-treated an ape, a bird of prey of 
a certain kind, or a cobra capella, in the presence of the 
worshippers of Vishnu, he must expiate his offence by the 
pretended sacrifice and resurrection of a human being. An 
incision is made in the victim's arm, the blood flows, he 
grows faint, falls, and feigns to die. Afterwards he is 
brought to life by being sprinkled with blood drawn from 
the thigh of a worshipper of Vishnu. The crowd of spec- 
tators is fully convinced of the reality of this simulated 
death and resurrection.^ The Malayans, a caste of 
Southern India, act as devil dancers for the purpose of 
exorcising demons who have taken possession of people. 
One of their ceremonies, " known as ucchaveli, has several 
forms, all of which seem to be either survivals, or at least 
imitations of human sacrifice. One of these consists of a 
mock living burial of the principal performer, who is placed 
in a pit, which is covered with planks, on the top of which 
a sacrifice is performed, with a fire kindled with jack wood 
{Artocarpus integrifolia) and a plant called erinna. In 
another variety, the Malayan cuts his left forearm, and 
smears his face with the blood thus drawn." * In Samoa, 
where every family had its god incarnate in one or more 
species of animals, any disrespect shewn to the worshipful 

1 YMi\yi&ss.,IphigeniainTaur.\\^?i (Milan, 1890), pp. 282 j-j. 
sqq. ^ J. A. Dubois, Mmurs, institutions 

^ J. T. Nieuwenhuisen en H. C. B. et cirimonies des peuples de TInde 

von Rosenberg, "Verslag omtrent het (Paris, 1825), i. 151 sq. 
eiland Nias," Verhandelingen van het ^ E. Thurston, Castes and Tribes 

Batav. Genootschap van Kunsten en of Southern India (Madras, 1909), 

Wetenschappen, xxx. (1863) p. 43 ; iv. 437, quoting Mr. A. R. Loftus- 

E. Modigliani, Un Viaggio a Nias Tottenham. 


animal, either by members of the kin or by a stranger in 
their presence, had to be atoned for by pretending to 
bake one of the family in a cold oven as a burnt sacrifice 
to appease the wrath of the offended god. For example, 
if a stranger staying in a household whose god was 
incarnate in cuttle-fish were to catch and cook one of 
these creatures, or if a member of the family had been 
present where a cuttle-fish was eaten, the family would 
meet in solemn conclave and choose a man or woman to 
50 and lie down in a cold oven, where he would be covered 
over with leaves, just as if he were really being baked. 
While this mock sacrifice was being carried out the family 
prayed : " O bald-headed Cuttle-fish ! forgive what has been 
done, it was all the work of a stranger." If they had not 
thus abased themselves before the divine cuttle-fish, he would 
undoubtedly have come and been the death of somebody by 
making a cuttle-fish to grow in his inside.^ 

Sometimes, as in Minahassa, the pretended sacrifice is Mock 
carried out, not on a living person, but on an eiifigy. At the s"grifl°es 
City of the Sun in ancient Egypt three men used to be carried out 
sacrificed every day, after the priests had stripped and '° ^ ^' 
examined them, like calves, to see whether they were with- 
out blemish and fit for the altar. But King Amasis ordered 
waxen images to be substituted for the human victims.^ An 
Indian law-book, the Calica Puran, prescribes that when the 
sacrifice of lions, tigers, or human beings is required, an 
image of a lion, tiger, or man shall be made with butter, 
paste, or barley meal, and sacrificed instead.^ Some of the 
Gonds of India formerly offered human sacrifices ; they now 
sacrifice straw-men, which are found to answer the purpose 
just as well.* Colonel Dalton was told that in some of their 
villages the Bhagats " annually make an image of a man in 
wood, put clothes and ornaments on it, and present it before 
the altar of a Mahddeo. The person who officiates as priest 
on the occasion says : ' O Mahddeo, we sacrifice this man to 

1 G. Turner, Samoa, pp. 31 sq. ; Calica Puran by W. C. Blaquiere, in 
compare pp. 38, 58, 59, 69 sq., 72. Asiatick Researches, v. 376 (8vo ed., 

2 Porphyry, De abstinentia, ii. 55, London, 1807). 

citing Manetho as his authority. * E. T. Dalton, Descriptive Ethno- 

3 "The Rudhiradhyaya, or san- logy of Bengal (Calcutta, 1872), p. 
guinary chapter," translated from the 2S1. 








out in 


you according to ancient customs. Give us rain in due 
season, and a plentiful harvest' Then with one stroke of 
the axe the head of the image is struck off, and the body is 
removed and buried."^ Formerly, when a Siamese army 
was about to take the field a condemned criminal represent- 
ing the enemy was put to death, but a humane king caused 
a puppet to be substituted for the man. The effigy is felled 
by the blow of an axe, and if it drops at the first stroke, the 
omen is favourable.^ In the East Indian island of Siaoo or 
Siauw, one of the Sangi group, a child stolen from a neigh- 
bouring island used to be sacrificed every year to the spirit 
of a volcano in order that there might be no eruption. The 
victim was slowly tortured to death in the temple by a 
priestess, who cut off the child's ears, nose, fingers, and so 
on, then consummated the sacrifice by splitting open the 
breast. The spectacle was witnessed by hundreds of people, 
and feasting and cock-fighting went on for nine days after- 
wards. In course of time the annual human victim was 
replaced by a wooden puppet, which was cut to pieces in the 
same manner.^ The Kayans of Borneo used to kill slaves 
at the death of a chief and nail them to the tomb, in order 
that they might accompany the chief on his long journey to 
the other world and paddle the canoe in which he must 
travel. This is no longer done, but instead they put up a 
wooden figure of a man at the head and another of a woman 
at the foot of the chiefs coffin as it lies in state before the 
funeral. And a small wooden image of a man is usually fixed 
on the top of the tomb to row the canoe for the dead chief.* 
In ancient times human sacrifices used to be offered at 
the graves of Mikados and princes of Japan, the personal 
attendants of the deceased being buried alive within the 
precincts of the tomb. But a humane emperor ordered 
that clay images should thenceforth be substituted for live 
men and women. One of these images is now in the 

1 E. T. Dalton, of. cit. pp. 258 

^ Mgr. Bruguiere, in Annales de 
V Association de la Propagation de la 
Foi, V. (1831) p. 201. 

2 B. C. A. J. van Dinter, "Eenige 
geographische en ethnographische 
aanteekeningen betreffende het eiland 

Siaoe," Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal- 
Land- en Volkenkunde, xli. (1899) p. 


* Ch. Hose and W. McDougall, 
"The Relations between Men and 
Animals in Sarawak," Journal of the 
Anthropological Institute, xxxi. (1901) 
p. 208. 


British Museum.^ The Toboongkoos of central Celebes, 
who are reported still to carry home as trophies the heads 
of their slain enemies, resort to the following cure for 
certain kinds of sickness. The heathen priestess cuts the 
likeness of a human head out of the sheath of a sago-leaf 
and sets it up on three sticks in the courtyard of the 
house. The patient, arrayed in his or her best clothes, is 
theri brought down into the court and remains there while 
women dance and sing round the artificial head, and men 
perform sham fights with shield, spear, and bow, just as 
they did, or perhaps still do, when they have brought back 
a human head from a raid. After that the sick man 
is taken back to the house, and an improvement in his 
health is confidently expected.^ In this ceremony the sham 
head is doubtless a substitute for a real one. 

With these mock sacrifices of human lives we may Mimic 
compare mimic sacrifices of other kinds. In southern India, =^<="fi;=^= 

'^ _ 'of various 

as in many parts of the world, it used to be customary to kinds, 
sacrifice joints of the fingers on certain occasions. Thus Mimic 
among the Morasas, when a grandchild was born in the of'^gjfggr^g 
family, the wife of the eldest son of the grandfather must 
have the last two joints of the third and fourth fingers of her 
right hand amputated at a temple of Bhairava. The 
amputation was performed by the village carpenter with a 
chisel. Nowadays, the custom having been forbidden by 
the English Government, the sacrifice is performed in 
mimicry. Some people stick gold or silver pieces with 
flour paste to the ends of their fingers and then cut or pull 
them off. Others tie flowers round the fingers that used to 
be amputated, and go through a pantomime of cutting the 
fingers by putting a chisel on the joint and then taking it 
away. Others again twist gold wires in the shape of rings 
round their fingers. These the carpenter removes and 
appropriates.^ In Niud or Savage Island, in the South 

' W. G. Aston, Shinto (London, ^ E. Thurston, "Deformity and 

1905), pp. 56 sq. Mutilation," Madras Government 

2 A. C. Kruijt, "Eenige ethno- Museum, Bulletin, vol. iv. No. 3 

grafische aanteekeningen omtrent de (Madras, 1903), pp. 193-196. As to 

Toboengkoe en de Tomori," Mededee- the custom of sacrificing joints of 

lingen van luege het Nederlandsche fingers, see my note on Fausanias, viii. 

Zendelinggenoetschap, xliv. (1900) p. 34. 2, vol. iv. pp. 354 sqg. To the 

222. evidence there adduced add P. J. de 


Mimic Pacific, the following custom continued till lately to be 
circum- observcd. When a boy was a few weeks old the men 
cision. assembled, and a feast was made. On the village square an 
awning was rigged up, and the child was laid on the ground 
under it. An old man then approached it, and performed 
the operation of circumcision on the infant in dumb show 
with his forefinger. No child was regarded as a full-born 
member of the tribe till he had been subjected to this rite. 
The natives say that real circumcision was never performed 
in their island ; but as it was commonly practised in Fiji, 
Tonga, and Samoa, we may assume that its imitation in 
Niu6 was a substitute, introduced at some time or other, for 
the actual operation.^ Similarly when an adult Hindoo 
joins the sect of the Daira or Mahadev Mohammedans in 
Mysore, a mock rite of circumcision is performed on him 
instead of the real operation. A betel leaf is wrapped 
round the male member of the neophyte and the loose end 
of the leaf is snipped off instead of the prepuce.^ 

§ 3. Burying the Carnival 

It has been Thus far I have offered an explanation of the rule which 
to kui"'^'^^ required that the priest of Nemi should be slain by his 
animal successor. The explanation claims to be no more than 
corn gods probablc ; our scanty knowledge of the custom and of its 

as well as 

tree-spirits. Smet, Western Missions and Mission- 20; id., xiv. (1842) pp. 68, 192; id., 

aries (New York, 1863), p. 135; G. xvii. (1845) PP- '2, 13; id., xviii. 

B. Grinnell, Blackfoot Lodge Tales, pp. (1846) p. 6 ; id., xxiii. (1851) p. 314 ; 

194, 258; A. d'Orbigny, L'Homme zrf. , xxxii. {i860) pp. 95 sq. ; Indian 

amiricain, \\. 24; J. Williams, Nar- Antiquary, xxiv. (1895) p. 303; 

rative of Missionary Enterprises in the Missions Catholiques, xxix. (1897) p. 

South Sea Islands, pp. 470 sq. ; J. 90 ; Zeitschrift fiir Ethnologie, xxxii. 

Mathew, Eaglehawk and Crow (Lon- (1900) p. 81. The objects of this 

don and Melbourne, 1899), p. 120; mutilation were various. In ancient 

A. W. Howitt, Native Tribes of South- Athens it was customary to cut off the 
East Australia, pp. 746 sq. ; L. S^hand of a suicide and bury it apart 

Degrandpre, Voyage h la cdte occi- from his body (Aeschines, Contra 

dentate d'Afrique (Paris, 1801), ii. 93 Ctesiph. § 244, p. 193, ed. F. Franke), 

sq. ; Dudley Kidd, The Essential perhaps to prevent his ghost from 

Kaffir, pp. 203, 262 sq. ; G. W. attacking the living. 

Stow, Native Races of South Africa ^ Basil C. Thomson, Savage Island 

(London, 1905), pp. 129, 152; Lettres (London, 1902), pp. 92 sq. 

idifiantes et curieuses, Nouvelle Edi- ^ E. Thurston, Ethnographic Notei 

tion, ix. 369, xii. 371 ; Annates de la in Southern India (Madras, 1906), 

Propagation de la Foi, xiii. {1841) p. p. 390. 


history forbids it to be more. But its probability will be 
augmented in proportion to the extent to which the motives 
and modes of thought which it assumes can be proved to 
have operated in primitive society. Hitherto the god with 
whose death and resurrection we have been chiefly concerned 
has been the tree-god. But if I can shew that the custom 
of killing the god and the belief in his resurrection originated, 
or at least existed, in the hunting and pastoral stage of 
society, when the slain god was an animal, and that it 
survived into the agricultural stage, when the slain god was 
the corn or a human being representing the corn, the 
probability of my explanation will have been considerably 
increased. This I shall attempt to do in the sequel, and in 
the course of the discussion I hope to clear up some 
obscurities which still remain, and to answer some 
objections which may have suggested themselves to the 

We start from the point at which we left off — the spring customs 
customs of European peasantry. Besides the ceremonies °l^ i^ufymg 
already described there are two kindred sets of observances Carnival 
in which the simulated death of a divine or supernatural f^f o^"^" 
being is a conspicuous feature. In one of them the being Death. 
whose death is dramatically represented is a personification 
of the Carnival ; in the other it is Death himself The 
former ceremony falls naturally at the end of the Carnival, 
either on the last day of that merry season, namely 
Shrove Tuesday, or on the first day of Lent, namely 
Ash Wednesday. The date of the other ceremony — the 
Carrying or Driving out of Death, as it is commonly called 
— is not so uniformly fixed. Generally it is the fourth 
Sunday in Lent, which hence goes by the name of Dead 
Sunday ; but in some places the celebration falls a week 
earlier, in others, as among the Czechs of Bohemia, a week 
later, while in certain German /illages of Moravia it is held 
on the first Sunday after Easter. Perhaps, as has been 
suggested, the date may originally have been variable, 
depending on the appearance of the first swallow or some 
other herald of the spring. Some writers regard the 
ceremony as Slavonic in its origin. Grimm thought it was 
a festival of the New Year with the old Slavs, who began 




Effigy of 
the Carni- 
val burnt 
at Frosi- 
none in 

their year in March.-' We shall first take examples of the 
mimic death of the Carnival, which always falls before 
the other in the calendar. 

At Frosinone, in Latium, about half-way between Rome 
and Naples, the dull monotony of life in a provincial Italian 
town is agreeably broken on the last day of the Carnival by 
the ancient festival known as the Radica. About four 
o'clock in the afternoon the town band, playing lively tunes 
and followed by a great crowd, proceeds to the Piazza del 
Plebiscite, where is the Sub-Prefecture as well as the rest 
of the Government buildings. Here, in the middle of the 
square, the eyes of the expectant multitude are greeted by 
the sight of an immense car decked with many-coloured 
festoons and drawn by four horses. Mounted on the car 
is a huge chair, on which sits enthroned the majestic figure 
of the Carnival, a man of stucco about nine feet high with a 
rubicund and smiling countenance. Enormous boots, a tin 
helmet like those which grace the heads of officers of the 
Italian marine, and a coat of many colours embellished with 
strange devices, adorn the outward man of this stately 
personage. His left hand rests on the arm of the chair, 
while with his right he gracefully salutes the crowd, being 
moved to this act of civility by a string which is pulled by 
a man who modestly shrinks from publicity under the mercy- 
seat. And now the crowd, surging excitedly round the 
car, gives vent to its feelings in wild cries of joy, gentle 
and simple being mixed up together and all dancing furiously 
the Saltarello. A special feature of the festival is that 
every one must carry in his hand what is called a radica 
(" root "), by which is meant a huge leaf of the aloe or rather 
the agave. Any one who ventured into the crowd without 

' J, Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie,* ii. 
645 ; K. Haupt, Sagenbuch derLausitz, 
ii. 58 ; Reinsberg - Duringsfeld, Fest- 
Kalender aus BShmen, pp. 86 sq, ; id. , 
Dasfestlickejahr, pp. "JT sq.; Bavaria, 
Landes- undVolkskunde des Konigreicks 
Bayern, iii. 958 sq. ; Sepp, Die 
Religion der alien Deutschen (Munich, 
1890), pp. 67 sq.; W. Miiller, Beitrdge 
xur Volkskunde der Deutschen in 
Mdhren (Vienna and Olmutz, 1893), 
pp. 258, 353. The fourth Sunday in 

Lent is also known as Mid -Lent, 
because it falls in the middle of Lent, 
or as Laetare from the first word of the 
liturgy for that day. In the Roman 
calendar it is the Sunday of the Rose 
(Domenica rosae), because on that day 
the Pope consecrates a golden rose, 
which he presents to some royal lady. 
In one German village of Transylvania 
the Carrying out of Death takes place 
on Ascension Day. See below, pp. 
248 sq. 


such a leaf would be unceremoniously hustled out of it, 
unless indeed he bore as a substitute a large cabbage at the 
end of a long stick or a bunch of grass curiously plaited. 
When the multitude, after a short turn, has escorted the slow- 
moving car to the gate of the Sub-Prefecture, they halt, and 
the car, jolting over the uneven ground, rumbles into the 
courtyard. A hush now falls on the crowd, their subdued 
voices sounding, according to the description of one who has 
heard them, like the murmur of a troubled sea. All eyes 
are turned anxiously to the door from which the Sub-Prefect 
himself and the other representatives of the majesty of the 
law are expected to issue and pay their homage to the hero 
of the hour. A few moments of suspense and then a storm 
of cheers and hand-clapping salutes the appearance of the 
dignitaries, as they file out and, descending the staircase, 
take their place in the procession. The hymn of the 
Carnival is now thundered out, after which, amid a deafening 
roar, aloe leaves and cabbages are whirled aloft and descend 
impartially on the heads of the just and the unjust, who 
lend fresh zest to the proceedings by engaging in a free 
fight. When these preliminaries have been concluded to the 
satisfaction of all concerned, the procession gets under weigh. • 
The rear is brought up by a cart laden with barrels of wine 
and policemen, the latter engaged in the congenial task of 
serving out wine to all who ask for it, while a most inter- 
necine struggle, accompanied by a copious discharge of yells, 
blows, and blasphemy, goes on among the surging crowd 
at the cart's tail in their anxiety not to miss the glorious 
opportunity of intoxicating themselves at the public expense. 
Finally, after the procession has paraded the principal streets 
in this majestic manner, the effigy of Carnival is taken to 
the middle of a public square, stripped of his finery, laid 
on a pile of wood, and burnt amid the cries of the multitude, 
who thundering out once more the song of the Carnival 
fling their so-called " roots " on the pyre and give themselves 
up without restraint to the pleasures of the dance.-' 

1 G. Targioni - Tozzetti, Saggio di night on Shrove Tuesday 1878. See 

novelline, canti ed usanze popolari G. Pitr6, Usi e costumi, credenze e 

della Ciociaria (Palermo, 1 891), pp. pregiudizi del popolo siciUano,\. 117- 

89-95. At Palermo an effigy of the 119; G. Trade, Das Heidentum in 

Carnival (Nannu) was burnt at mid- der rbmischen Kirche, iii. II, note*. 




the Carni- 
val in the 

In the Abruzzi a pasteboard figure of the Carnival is 
carried by four grave-diggers with pipes in their mouths and 
bottles of wine slung at their shoulder-belts. In front walks 
the wife of the Carnival, dressed in mourning and dissolved 
in tears. From time to time the company halts, and while 
the wife addresses the sympathising public, the grave-diggers 
refresh the inner man with a pull at the bottle. In the open 
square the mimic corpse is laid on a pyre, and to the roll of 
drums, the shrill screams of the women, and the gruffer 
cries of the men a light is set to it. While the figure burns, 
chestnuts are thrown about among the crowd. Sometimes 
the Carnival is represented by a straw-man at the top of a 
pole which is borne through the town by a troop of 
mummers in the course of the afternoon. When evening 
comes on, four of the mummers hold out a quilt or sheet 
by the corners, and the figure of the Carnival is made to 
tumble into it. The procession is then resumed, the 
performers weeping crocodile tears and emphasising the 
poignancy of their grief by the help of saucepans and dinner 
bells. Sometimes, again, in the Abruzzi the dead Carnival 
is personified by a living man who lies in a coffin, attended 
by another who acts the priest and dispenses holy water in 
great profusion from a bathing tub.^ In Malta the death of 
the Carnival used to be mourned by women on the last day 
of the merry festival. Clad from head to foot in black 
mantles, they carried through the streets of the city the linen 
efifigy of a corpse, stuffed with straw or hay and decked with 
leaves and oranges. As they carried it, they chanted dirges, 

^ A. de Nino, Usi e costumi abruz- 
zesi, ii. 1 98-200. The writer omits to 
mention the date of these celebrations. 
No doubt it is either Shrove Tuesday 
or Ash Wednesday. Compare G. 
Finamore, Credeme, usi e costumi 
abruzzesi (Palermo, 1890), p. iii. 
In some parts of Piedmont an effigy 
of Carnival is burnt on the evening of 
Shrove Tuesday ; in others they set 
fire to tall poplar trees, which, stript 
of their branches and surmounted by 
banners, have been set up the day 
before in public places. These trees 
go by the name of Scarli. See G. di 
Giovanni, Usi, credenze e fregiudizi 

del Ca«awej« (Palermo, 1889), pp. 161, 
164 sq. For other accounts of the 
ceremony of the death of the Carnival, 
represented either by a puppet or a 
living person, in Italy and Sicily, see 
G. Pitre, Usi e costumi, credenze e 
pregiudizi del popolo siciliano, i. 96- 
100 ; G. Amalfi, Tradizioni ed usi 
nella Penisola Sorrentina (Palermo 
1890), pp. 40, 42. It has been 
rightly observed by Pitr^ (op. cit. 
p. 96), that the personification of 
the Carnival is doubtless the lineal 
descendant of some mythical person- 
age of remote Greek and Roman 


stopping after every verse to howl like professional mourners. 
The custom came to an end about the year 1737.^ 

At Lerida, in Catalonia, the funeral of the Carnival was Burial of 
witnessed by an English traveller in 1877. On the^j^j^™'' 
last Sunday of the Carnival a grand procession of infantry, Lerfda in 
cavalry, and maskers of many sorts, some on horseback and ^^'"' 
some in carriages, escorted the grand car of His Grace Pau 
Pi, as the effigy was called, in triumph through the principal 
streets. For three days the revelry ran high, and then at 
midnight on the last day of the Carnival the same procession 
again wound through the streets, but under a different aspect 
and for a different end. The triumphal car was exchanged 
for a hearse, in which reposed the effigy of his dead Grace : 
a troop of maskers, who in the first procession had played 
the part of Students of Folly with many a merry quip and 
jest, now, robed as priests and bishops, paced slowly along 
holding aloft huge lighted tapers and singing a dirge. All 
the mummers wore crape, and all the horsemen carried 
blazing flambeaux. Down the high street, between the 
lofty, many-storeyed and balconied houses, where every 
window, every balcony, every housetop was crammed with 
a dense mass of spectators, all dressed and masked in 
fantastic gorgeousness, the procession took its melancholy 
way. Over the scene flashed and played the shifting cross- 
lights and shadows from the moving torches : red and blue 
Bengal lights flared up and died out again ; and above the 
trampling of the horses and the measured tread of the 
marching multitude rose the voices of the priests chanting 
the requiem, while the military bands struck in with the 
solemn roll of the muffled drums. On reaching the principal 
square the procession halted, a burlesque funeral oration 
was pronounced over the defunct Pau Pi, and the lights 
were extinguished. Immediately the devil and his angels 
darted from the crowd, seized the body and fled away with 
it, hotly pursued by the whole multitude, yelling, screaming, 
and cheering. Naturally the fiends were overtaken and 
dispersed ; and the sham corpse, rescued from their clutches, 
was laid in a grave that had been made ready for its 

* R. Wiinsch, Das Fruhlingsfest 29 sq. , quoting Ciantar's supplements 
i&r Insel Malta (Leipsic, 1902), pp. to Abelas's Malta illustrata. 
PT. Ill Q 


reception. Thus the Carnival of 1877 at Lerida died and 
was buried.^ 
Funeral A Ceremony of the same sort is observed in Provence on 

Ca^nh-ai ^sh Wednesday. An effigy called Caramantran, whimsically 
in France, attired, is drawn in a chariot or borne on a litter, accom- 
panied by the populace in grotesque costumes, who carry 
gourds full of wine and drain them with all the marks, real 
or affected, of intoxication. At the head of the procession 
are some men disguised as judges and barristers, and a tall 
gaunt personage who masquerades as Lent ; behind them 
follow young people mounted on miserable hacks and attired 
as mourners who pretend to bewail the fate that is in store 
for Caramantran. In the principal square the procession 
halts, the tribunal is constituted, and Caramantran placed 
at the bar. After a formal trial he is sentenced to death 
amid the groans of the mob ; the barrister who defended 
him embraces his client for the last time : the officers of 
justice do their duty : the condemned is set with his back to 
a wall and hurried into eternity under a shower of stones. 
The sea or a river receives his mangled remains.^ At Lussac 
in the department of Vienne young people, attired in long 
mourning robes and with woebegone countenances, carry an 
effigy down to the river on Ash Wednesday and throw it 
into the river, crying, " Carnival is dead ! Carnival is dead ! " ^ 
Throughout nearly the whole of the Ardennes it was and 
still is customary on Ash Wednesday to burn an effigy which 
is supposed to represent the Carnival, while appropriate verses 
are sung round about the blazing figure. Very often an 
attempt is made to fashion the effigy in the likeness of the 
husband who is reputed to be least faithful to his wife of 
any in the village. As might perhaps have been anticipated, 
the distinction of being selected for portraiture under these 
painful circumstances has a slight tendency to breed domestic 
jars, especially when the portrait is burnt in front of the house 

1 J. S. Campion, On Foot in Spain " Lent entering." It is said that the 
(London, 1879), pp. 291-295. effigy of Caramantran is sometimes 

2 A. de Nore, Coutumes, mythes et burnt (E. Cortet, Essai sur les fites 
traditions des provinces de France religieuses, Paris, 1867, p. 107). 
(Paris and Lyons, 1846), pp. 37 sq. 

The name Caramantran is thought to ' L. Pineau, Folk - lore du Poitou 

be compounded of carime entrant, (Paris, 1892), p. 493. 


of the gay deceiver whom it represents, while a powerful 
chorus of caterwauls, groans, and other melodious sounds 
bears public testimony to the opinion which his friends and 
neighbours entertain of his private virtues. In some villages Execution 
of the Ardennes a young man of flesh and blood, dressed up xuesday^ 
in hay and straw, used to act the part of Shrove Tuesday in the 
{Mardi Gras), as the personification of the Carnival is often and^°°^ 
called in France after the last day of the period which he Franche- 
personates. He was brought before a mock tribunal, and 
being condemned to death was placed with his back to 
a wall, like a soldier at a military execution, and fired at 
with blank cartridges. At Vrigne-aux-Bois one of these 
harmless buffoons, named Thierry, was accidentally killed 
by a wad that had been left in a musket of the firing-party. 
When poor Shrove Tuesday dropped under the fire, the 
applause was loud and long, he did it so naturally ; but 
when he did not get up again, they ran to him and found 
him a corpse. Since then there have been no more of these 
mock executions in the Ardennes.^ In Franche-Comtd 
people used to make an effigy of Shrove Tuesday on Ash 
Wednesday, and carry it about the streets to the accompani- 
ment of songs. Then they brought it to the public square, 
where the offender was tried in front of the town -hall. 
Judges muffled in old red curtains and holding big books in 
their hands pronounced sentence of death. The mode of 
execution varied with the place. Sometimes it was burning, 
sometimes drowning, sometimes decapitation. In the last 
case the effigy was provided with tubes of blood, which 
spouted gore at the critical moment, making a profound 
impression on the minds of children, some of whom wept 
bitterly at the sight. Meantime the onlookers uttered 
piercing cries and appeared to be plunged in the deepest 
grief. The proceedings generally wound up in the evening 
with a ball, which the young married people were obliged 
to provide for the public entertainment ; otherwise their 
slumbers were apt to be disturbed by the discordant notes of 
a cat's concert chanted under their windows.^ 

* A. Meyrac, Traditions, Ugendes et Tuesday or the Carnival is pretty 

contes des Ardennes (Charleville, 1890), general in France, 
p. 63. According to the writer, the ^ ch. Beauquier, Les Mois en 

custom of burning an effigy of Shrove Franche-Comti (Paris, 1900), p. 30. 


Burial of In Normandy on the evening of Ash Wednesday it used 

TuTsdly in ^o be the custom to hold a celebration called the Burial of 
Normandy. Shrovc Tuesday. A squalid effigy scantily clothed in rags, 
a battered old hat crushed down on his dirty face, his great 
round paunch stuffed with straw, represented the disreputable 
old rake who after a long course of dissipation was now 
about to suffer for his sins. Hoisted on the shoulders of a 
sturdy fellow, who pretended to stagger under the burden, 
this popular personification of the Carnival promenaded the 
streets for the last time in a manner the reverse of triumphal. 
Preceded by a drummer and accompanied by a jeering rabble, 
among whom the urchins and all the tag-rag and bobtail of 
the town mustered in great force, the figure was carried 
about by the flickering light of torches to the discordant din 
of shovels and tongs, pots and pans, horns and kettles, 
mingled with hootings, groans, and hisses. From time to 
time the procession halted, and a champion of morality 
accused the broken-down old sinner of all the excesses he 
had committed and for which he was now about to be burned 
alive. The culprit, having nothing to urge in his own 
defence, was thrown on a heap of straw, a torch was put to 
it, and a great blaze shot up, to the delight of the children 
who frisked round it screaming out some old popular verses 
about the death of the Carnival. Sometimes the effigy was 
Burning rolled down the slope of a hill before being burnt.^ At 
Tuesday at Saint- L6 the ragged effigy of Shrove Tuesday was followed 
Saint-L&. by his widow, a big burly lout dressed as a woman with a 
crape veil, who emitted sounds of lamentation and woe in a 
stentorian voice. After being carried about the streets on a 
litter attended by a crowd of maskers, the figure was thrown 
into the River Vire. The final scene has been graphically 
described by Madame Octave Feuillet as she witnessed it in 
her childhood some fifty years ago. " My parents invited 
friends to see, from the top of the tower of Jeanne Couillard, 
the funeral procession passing. It was there that, quaffing 
lemonade — the only refreshment allowed because of the fast 

In Beauce and Perche the burning et du Perche (Paris, 1902), i. 320 

or burial of Shrove Tuesday used sq. 

to be represented in effigy, but the ' J. Lecoeur, Esquisses du Socage 

custom has now disappeared. See Normand (Cond^-sur-Noireau, 1883- 

'F . Oa&fise2i\x, Le Folk-lore de la Beauce 1887), ii. 148-150, 


— we witnessed at nightfall a spectacle of which I shall 
always preserve a lively recollection. At our feet flowed the 
Vire under its old stone bridge. On the middle of the bridge 
lay the figure of Shrove Tuesday on a litter of leaves, 
surrounded by scores of maskers dancing, singing, and 
carrying torches. Some of them in their motley costumes 
ran along the parapet like fiends. The rest, worn out with 
their revels, sat on the posts and dozed. Soon the dancing 
stopped, and some of the troop, seizing a torch, set fire to 
the effigy, after which they flung it into the river with 
redoubled shouts and clamour. The man of straw, soaked 
with resin, floated away burning down the stream of the 
Vire, lighting up with its funeral fires the woods on the 
bank and the battlements of the old castle in which Louis XI. 
and Francis I. had slept. When the last glimmer of the 
blazing phantom had vanished, like a falling star, at the end 
of the valley, every one withdrew, crowd and maskers alike, 
and we quitted the ramparts with our guests. As we returned 
home my father sang gaily the old popular song : — 

' Shrove Tuesday is dead and his wife has got 
His shabby pocket-handkerchief and his cracked old pot. 
Sing high., sing low. 
Shrove Tuesday will come back no more.' 

' He will come back ! He will come back ! ' we cried warmly, 
clapping our hands ; and he did come back next year, and 
I think I should see him still if, after the lapse of half a 
century, I returned to the land of my birth." ^ 

In Upper Brittany the burial of Shrove Tuesday or the Burial of 
Carnival is sometimes performed in a ceremonious manner. xue°sday 
Four young fellows carry a straw-man or one of their com- or the 
panions, and are followed by a funeral procession. A show Brittany. 
is made of depositing the pretended corpse in the grave, 
after which the bystanders make believe to mourn, crying out 
in melancholy tones, " Ah ! my poor little Shrove Tuesday ! " 
The boy who played the part of Shrove Tuesday bears the 
name for the whole year.^ At Lesneven in Lower Brittany 
it was formerly the custom on Ash Wednesday to burn a 

1 Madame Octave Feuillet, Quelques ' P. S^billot, Coutumes populaires de 

annies de ma vie^ (Paris, 1895), pp. la Haute-Breiagne (Paris, 1886), pp. 
59-61. 227 sq. 


straw-man, covered with rags, after he had been promenaded 
about the town. He was followed by a representative of 
Shrove Tuesday clothed with sardines and cods' tails.^ At 
Pontaven in Finist^re an effigy representing the Carnival 
used to be thrown from the quay into the sea on the morning 
of Ash Wednesday.^ At La Rochelle the porters and sailors 
carried about a man of straw representing Shrove Tuesday, 
then burned it on Ash Wednesday and flung the ashes into 
the sea.^ In Saintonge and Aunis, which correspond roughly 
to the modern departments of Charente, children used to 
drown or burn a figure of the Carnival on the morning of 
Ash Wednesday.* The beginning of Lent in England was 
formerly marked by a custom which has now fallen into 
disuse. A figure, made up of straw and cast-off clothes, 
was drawn or carried through the streets amid much noise 
and merriment ; after which it was either burnt, shot at, or 
thrown down a chimney. This image went by the name of 
Jack o' Lent, and was by some supposed to represent Judas 
Buryingthe A Bohemian form of the custom of " Burying the Car- 
Germlny" "ival " has been already described.^ The following Swabian 
^"d^ form is obviously similar. In the neighbourhood of Tubingen 

on Shrove Tuesday a straw-man, called the Shrovetide Bear, 
is made up ; he is dressed in a pair of old trousers, and a 
fresh black - pudding or two squirts filled with blood are 
inserted in his neck. After a formal condemnation he is 
beheaded, laid in a coffin, and on Ash Wednesday is buried 
in the churchyard. This is called " Burying the Carnival." ^ 
Amongst some of the Saxons of Transylvania the Carnival 
is hanged. Thus at Braller on Ash Wednesday or Shrove 
Tuesday two white and two chestnut horses draw a sledge 
on which is placed a straw-man swathed in a white cloth ; 

' A. de Nore, Couiumes, mythes et Ash Wednesday in France, see further 

traditions des Provinces de France, p. Berenger-Fferaud, Superstitions et sur- 

206. vivances, iv. 52 sq* 

2 P. Sebillot, Le Folk-lore de France, ^ T. F. Thiselton Dyer, British 
ii. (Paris, 1905) p. 170. Popular Customs (London, 1876), p. ■ 

3 P. SAillot, l.c. 93. 
* J. L. M. Nogues, Les Mceurs ^ See above, p. 209. 

d'autrefois en Saintonge et en Aunis ^ E. Meier, Deutsche Sagen, Sitten 

(Saintes, 1891), p. 60. As to the trial und Gebrduche aus Schwaben, p. 
and condemnation of the Carnival on 371. 



beside him is a cart-wheel which is kept turning round. 
Two lads disguised as old men follow the sledge lamenting. 
The . rest of the village lads, mounted on horseback and 
decked with ribbons, accompany the procession, which is 
headed by two girls crowned with evergreen and drawn in a 
waggon or sledge. A trial is held under a tree, at which 
lads disguised as soldiers pronounce sentence of death. The 
two old men try to rescue the straw-man and to fly with 
him, but to no purpose ; he is caught by the two girls and 
handed over to the executioner, who hangs him on a tree. 
In vain the old men try to climb up the tree and take him 
down ; they always tumble down, and at last in despair they 
throw themselves on the ground and weep and howl for the 
hanged man. An official then makes a speech in which he 
declares that the Carnival was condemned to death because 
he had done them harm, by wearing out their shoes and 
making them tired and sleepy.-' At the " Burial of Carnival " 
in Lechrain, a man dressed as a woman in black clothes is 
carried on a litter or bier by four men ; he is lamented over 
by men disguised as women in black clothes, then thrown 
down before the village dung -heap,' drenched with water, 
buried in the dung-heap, and covered with straw.^ Similarly 
in Schorzingen, near Schomberg, the " Carnival (Shrovetide) 
Fool " was carried all about the village on a bier, preceded 
by a man dressed in white, and folfowed by a devil who was 
dressed in black and carried chains, which he clanked. One 
of the train collected gifts. After the procession the Fool 
was buried under straw and dung.' In Rottweil the " Car- 
nival Fool " is made drunk on Ash Wednesday and buried 
under straw amid loud lamentation.* In Wurmlingen the 
Fool is represented by a young fellow enveloped in straw, 
who is led about the village by a rope as a " Bear " on Shrove 
Tuesday and the preceding day. He dances to the flute. 
Then on Ash Wednesday a straw-man is made, placed on a 
trough, carried out of the village to the sound of drums and 

1 J. Haltrich, Zur Volkskunde der ' E. Meier, Deutsche Sagen, Sitten 
Siebenbiirger Sachsen (Vienna, 1885), und Gebrduche aus Schwabm, p. 374 ; 
pp. 284 sq. compare A. Birlinger, Volksthiimliches 

2 K. von Leoprechting, Aus dem aus Schwaben (Freiburg im Breisgau, 
Lechrain, pp. 162 sqq. ; W. Mann- 1861-1862), ii. pp. 54 j^?., § 71. 
hardt, Baumkultus, p. 411. * E. Meier, op. cit. p. 372. 


mournful music, and buried in a field.^ In Altdorf and 
Weingarten on Ash Wednesday the Fool, represented by a 
straw-man, is carried about and then thrown into the water 
to the accbmpaniment of melancholy music. In other 
villages of Swabia the part of fool is played by a live person, 
who is thrown into the water after being carried about in 
procession.^ At Balwe, in Westphalia, a straw-man is made 
on Shrove Tuesday and thrown into the river amid rejoicings. 
This is called, as usual, " Burying the Carnival." ^ At Burge- 
brach, in Bavaria, it used to be customary, as a public pastime, 
to hold a sort of court of justice on Ash Wednesday. The 
accused was a straw-man, on whom was laid the burden of 
all the notorious transgressions that had been committed in 
the course of the year. Twelve chosen maidens sat in 
judgment and pronounced sentence, and a single advocate 
pleaded the cause of the public scapegoat. Finally the 
effigy was burnt, and thus all the offences that had created a 
scandal in the community during the year were symbolically 
atoned for. We can hardly doubt that this custom of 
burning a straw-man on Ash Wednesday for the sins of a 
whole year is only another form of the custom, observed on 
the same day in so many other places, of -burning an effigy 
which is supposed to embody and to be responsible for all 
the excesses committed during the licence of the Carnival. 
Burningthe In Greece a ceremony of the same sort was witnessed at 
in^Greece. Pylos by Mr. E. L. TiltoH in 1 895. On the evening of the first 
day of the Greek Lent, which fell that year on the twenty-fifth 
of February, an effigy with a grotesque mask for a face was 
borne about the streets on a bier, preceded by a mock priest 
with long white beard. Other functionaries surrounded the 
bier and two torch-bearers walked in advance. The pro- 
cession moved slowly to melancholy music played by a pipe 
and drum. A final halt was made in the public square, 
where a circular space was kept clear of the surging crowd. 
Here a bonfire was kindled, and round it the priest led a wild 
dance to the same droning music. When the frenzy was at 

> E. Meier, op. cit. p.. 373- "• P- 13°. § 393- 

^ E. Meier, op. cit. pp. 373, 374. * Bavaria, Landes- und Volkskunde 

5 A. Kuhn, Sagen, Gebrduche tind des Kmigreichs Bayern, iii. 958, 

Mdrchen aus Westfalen (Leipsic, 1859), note. 


its height, the chief performer put tow on the effigy and set 
fire to it, and while it blazed he resumed his mad career, 
brandishing torches and tearing off his venerable beard to 
add fuel to the flames.^ On the evening of Shrove Tuesday Esthonian 
the Esthonians make a straw figure called metsik or " wood- '^^^°^^ °" 
spirit " ; one year it is dressed with a man's coat and hat, next Tuesday. 
year with a hood and a petticoat. This figure is stuck on a 
long pole, carried across the boundary of the village with loud 
cries of joy, and fastened to the top of a tree in the wood. 
The ceremony is believed to be a protection against all kinds 
of misfortune.^ 

Sometimes at these Shrovetide or Lenten ceremonies the Resume- 
resurrection of the pretended dead person is enacted. Thus, ""acted in 
in some parts of Swabia on Shrove Tuesday Dr. Iron-Beard these cere- 
professes to bleed a sick man, who thereupon falls as dead to 
the ground ; but the doctor at last restores him to life by 
blowing air into him through a tube.* In the Harz Moun- 
tains, when Carnival is over, a man is laid on a baking-trough 
and carried with dirges to a grave ; but in the grave a glass 
of brandy is buried instead of the man. A speech is delivered 
and then the people return to the village-green or meeting- 
place, where they smoke the long clay pipes which are 
distributed at funerals. On the morning of Shrove Tuesday 
in the following year the brandy is dug up and the festival 
begins by every one tasting the spirit which, as the phrase 
goes, has come to life again.* 

§ 4. Carrying out Death 

The ceremony of " Carrying out Death " presents much Carrying 
the same features as " Burying the Carnival " ; except that Z^'^^^^x^.. 
the carrying out of Death is generally followed by a cere- 
mony, or at least accompanied by a profession, of bringing 
in Summer, Spring, or Life. Thus in Middle Franken, a 
province of Bavaria, on the fourth Sunday in Lent, the 
village urchins used to make a straw eiifigy of Death, which 

1 Folk-lore, vi. (1895) p. 206. 3 g. Meier, op. cit. p. 374. 

2 F. J. Wiedemann, Aus dem inneren 

und dusseren Leben der Ehsten (St. * H. Prohle, Harzhilder (Leipsic, 

Petersburg, 1876), p. 353. 1855), p. 54. 


they carried about with burlesque pomp through the streets, 
and afterwards burned with loud cries beyond the bounds.^ 
The Prankish custom is thus described by a writer of the 
sixteenth century: "At Mid -Lent, the season when the 
church bids us rejoice, the young people of my native 
country make a straw image of Death, and fastening it to 
a pole carry it with shouts to the neighbouring villages. 
By some they are kindly received, and after being refreshed 
with milk, peas, and dried pears, the usual food of that 
season, are sent home again. Others, however, treat them 
with anything but hospitality ; for, looking on them as 
harbingers of misfortune, to wit of death, they drive them 
from their boundaries with weapons and insults." ^ In the 
villages near Erlangen, when the fourth Sunday in Lent 
came round, the peasant girls used to dress themselves 
in all their finery with flowers in their hair. Thus attired 
they repaired to the neighbouring town, carrying puppets 
which were adorned with leaves and covered with white 
cloths. These they took from house to house in pairs, 
stopping at every door where they expected to receive 
something, and singing a few lines in which they announced 
that it was Mid-Lent and that they were about to throw 
Death into the water. When they had collected some 
trifling gratuities they went to the river Regnitz and flung 
the puppets representing Death into the stream. This was 
done to ensure a fruitful and prosperous year; further, it was 
considered a safeguard against pestilence and sudden death.^ 
At Nuremberg girls of seven to eighteen years of age go 
through the streets bearing a little open coffin, in which is a 
doll hidden under a shroud. Others carry a beech branch, 
with an apple fastened to it for a head, in an open box. 
They sing, " We carry Death into the water, it is well," or 
" We carry Death into the water, carry him in and out 
again." * In other parts of Bavaria the ceremony took 
place on the Saturday before the fifth Sunday in Lent, and 
the performers were boys or girls, according to the sex of 

' Bavaria, Landes- und Volkskunde ^ Bavaria, Landes- und Volkskunde 

des Konigreichs Bayem, iii. 958. des Konigreichs Bayem, iii. 958. 

^ J. Boemus, Omnium gentium * J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythohgie,'^ 

mores, leges, et ritus (Paris, 1538), 11.639^17. ; W. Mannhardt,5a«OT/i«/i(««j, 

p. 83. p. 412. 

vin Carrying OUT DEATH 235 

the last person who died in the village. The figure was 
thrown into water or buried in a secret place, for example 
under moss in the forest, that no one might find Death 
again. Then early on Sunday morning the children went 
from house to house singing a song in which they announced 
the glad tidings that Death was gone.^ In some parts of 
Bavaria down to 1780 it was believed that a fatal epidemic 
would ensue if the custom of " Carrying out Death " were 
not observed.^ 

In some villages of Thuringen, on the fourth Sunday of Carrying 
Lent, the children used to carry a puppet of birchen twigs ^"'^jj^ -^^ 
through the village, and then threw it into a pool, while they Thuringen. 
sang, " We carry the old Death out behind the herdsman's 
old house ; we have got Summer, and Kroden's (?) power is 
destroyed."^ At Debschwitz or Dobschwitz, near Gera, the 
ceremony of " Driving out Death " is or was annually ob- 
served on the first of March. The young people make up 
a figure of straw or the like materials, dress it in old clothes, 
which they have begged from houses in the village, and carry 
it out and throw it into the river. On returning to the 
village they break the good news to the people, and receive 
eggs and other victuals as a reward. The ceremony is or 
was supposed to purify the village and to protect the in- 
habitants from sickness and plague. In other villages of 
Thuringen, in which the population was originally Slavonic, 
the carrying out of the puppet is accompanied with the 
singing of a song, which begins, " Now we carry Death out 
of the village and Spring into the village." * At the end of 
the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth century the 
custom was observed in Thiiringen as follows. The boys 
and girls made an effigy of straw or the like materials, but 
the shape of the figure varied from year to year. In one 
year it would represent an old man, in the next an old 
woman, in the third a young man, and in the fourth a 
maiden, and the dress of the figure varied with the character 

' Sepp, Die Religion der alten 1878), p. 193. 
Deutschen (Munich, 1876), p. 67. * A. Witzschel, op. cit. p. 199 ; 

2 Fr. Kauffmann, Balder (Strasburg, J. A. E. Kohler, Volksbrauch, Aber- 
1902), p. 283. glauben, Sagen und andre alte Uber- 

3 Aug. Witzschel, Sagen, Sitten lieferungen im Voigtlande (Leipsic, 
und Gebrauche aus Thiiringen {yieaaa, 1867), pp. \']\ sq. 




out Death 
in Silesia. 

it personated. There used to be a sharp contest as to where 
the effigy was to be made, for the people thought that the 
house from which it was carried forth would not be visited 
with death that year. Having been made, the puppet was 
fastened to a pole and carried by a girl if it represented an 
old man, but by a boy if it represented an old woman. 
Thus it was borne in procession, the young people holding 
sticks in their hands and singing that they were driving out 
Death. When they came to water they threw the effigy 
into it and ran hastily back, fearing that it might jump on 
their shoulders and wring their necks. They also took care 
not to touch it, lest it should dry them up. On their return 
they beat the cattle with the sticks, believing that this would 
make the animals fat or fruitful. Afterwards they visited 
the house or houses from which they had carried the image 
of Death, where they received a dole of half-boiled peas.^ 
The custom of " Carrying out Death " was practised also in 
Saxony. At Leipsic the bastards and public women used 
to make a straw effigy of Death every year at Mid-Lent. 
This they carried through all the streets with songs and 
shewed it to the young married women. Finally they threw 
it into the river Parthe. By this ceremony they professed 
to make the young wives fruitful, to purify the city, and to 
protect the inhabitants for that year from plague and other 

Ceremonies of the same sort are observed at Mid-Lent 
in Silesia. Thus in many places the grown girls with the 
help of the young men dress up a straw figure with women's 
clothes and carry it out of the village towards the setting 
sun. At the boundary they strip it of its clothes, tear it in 
pieces, and scatter the fragments about the fields. This is 
called " Burying Death." As they carry the image out, they 
sing that they are about to bury death under an oak, that 

1 Fr. Kaufifmann, Balder (Strasburg, 
1902), p. 283 note, quoting J. K. 
Zeumer, Laetare vulgo Todten Sonntag 
(Jena, 1701), pp. 20 sqq. ; J. Grimm, 
Deutsche Mythologie,^ ii. 640 sq. The 
words of the song are given as '■^ So 
treiben wir den todten miss" but this 
must be a mistake for "So treiben wir 
den Tod hinaus" as the line is given 

by P. Drechsler {Sitte, Brauch und 
Volksglaube in Schlesien, i. 66). In 
the passage quoted the effigy is spoken 
of as "mortis larva." 

2 Zacharias Schneider, Leipziger 
Chronik, iv. 143, cited by K. Schwenk, 
Die Mythologie der Slaven (Frankfort, 
1853). PP- 217 sq., and Fr. Kauft'- 
mann, Balder, pp. 284 sq. 


he may depart from the people. Sometimes the song runs 
that they are bearing death over hill and dale to return no 
more. In the Polish neighbourhood of Gross- Strehlitz the 
puppet is called Goik. It is carried on horseback and 
thrown into the nearest water. The people think that the 
ceremony protects them from sickness of every sort in the 
coming year. In the districts of Wohlau and Guhrau the 
image of Death used to be thrown over the boundary of the 
next village. But as the neighbours feared to receive the 
ill-omened figure, they were on the look-out to repel it, and 
hard knocks were often exchanged between the two parties. 
In some Polish parts of Upper Silesia the eiifigy, representing 
an old woman, goes by the name of Marzana, the goddess 
of death. It is made in the house where the last death 
occurred, and is carried on a pole to the boundary of the 
village, where it is thrown into a pond or burnt. At Polk- 
witz the custom of " Carrying out Death " fell into abeyance ; 
but an outbreak of fatal sickness which followed the inter- 
mission of the ceremony induced the people to resume it.^ 
Some of the Moravians of Silesia make three puppets on 
this occasion : one represents a man, another a bride, and 
the third a bridesmaid. The first is carried by the boys, the 
two last by the girls. Formerly these efifigies were torn to 
pieces at a brook ; now they are brought home again.^ In 
this last custom two of the figures are clearly conceived as 
bride and bridegroom. 

In Bohemia the children go out with a straw-man, re- Carrying 
presenting Death, to the end of the village, where they burn ^^^jj^ j^ 

it, singing Bohemia. 

" Now carry we Death out of the village. 
The new Summer into the village. 
Welcome, dear Summer, 
Green little corn." ^ 

At Tabor in Bohemia the figure of Death is carried out 
of the town and flung from a high rock into the water, while 
they sing — 

1 P. Drcchsler, Sitte, Branch tend ^ F. Tetzner, "Die Tschechen und 

Volksglaube in Schlesien, i. 65-71. Mahrer in Schlesien," Globus, Ixxviii. 

Compare A. Peter, Volksthiimliches aus (1900) p. 340. 

Osterreichisch - Schlesien (Troppau, ' J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie,* 

1865-1867), ii. 281 sq. ii. 642. 


" Death swims on the water. 
Summer will soon be here. 
We carried Death away for you. 
We brought the Summer. 
And do thou, O holy Marketa, 
Give us u. good year 
For wheat and for rye." ^ 

In other parts of Bohemia they carry Death to the end of 
the village, singing — 

" We carry Death out of the village. 
And the New Year into the village. 
Dear Spring, we bid you welcome. 
Green grass, we bid you welcome." 

Behind the village they erect a pyre, on which they burn the 
straw figure, reviling and scoffing at it the while. Then they 
return, singing — 

" We have carried away Death, 
And brought Life back. 
He has taken up his quarters in the village. 
Therefore sing joyous songs." ^ 

Carrying In somc German villages of Moravia, as in Jassnitz and 

°^MorTviI. Seitendorf, the young folk assemble on the third Sunday in 
Lent and fashion a straw-man, who is generally adorned 
with a fur cap and a pair of old leathern hose, if such are to 
be had. The effigy is then hoisted on a pole and carried 
by the lads and lasses out into the open fields. On the 
way they sing a song, in which it is said that they are 
carrying Death away and bringing dear Summer into the 
house, and with Summer the May and the flowers. On 
reaching an appointed place they dance in a circle round 
the effigy with loud shouts and screams, then suddenly rush 
at it and tear it to pieces with their hands. Lastly, the 
pieces are thrown together in a heap, the pole is broken, and 
fire is set to the whole. While it burns the troop dances 
merrily round it, rejoicing at the victory won by Spring ; 
and when the fire has nearly died out they go to the house- 
holders to beg for a present of eggs wherewith to hold a 

1 Reinsberg-Dliringsfeld, Fest-Kalender aus Bohmen, pp. 90 sq. 
2 Ibid. p. 91. 


feast, taking care to give as a reason for the request that 
they have carried Death out and away.^ 

The preceding evidence shews that the effigy of Death is The effigy 
often regarded with fear and treated with marks of hatred feared^lnd 
and abhorrence. Thus the anxiety of the villagers to transfer abhorred. 
the figure from their own to their neighbours' land, and the 
reluctance of the latter to receive the ominous guest, are 
proof enough of the dread which it inspires. Further, in 
Lusatia and Silesia the puppet is sometimes made to look 
in at the window of a house, and it is believed that some 
one in the house will die within the year unless his life is 
redeemed by the payment of money .^ Again, after throwing 
the effigy away, the bearers sometimes run home lest Death 
should follow them, and if one of them falls in running, it is 
believed that he will die within the year.' At Chrudim, in 
Bohemia, the figure of Death is made out of a cross, with a 
head and mask stuck at the top, and a shirt stretched out 
on it. On the fifth Sunday in Lent the boys take this 
effigy to the nearest brook or pool, and standing in a line 
throw it into the water. Then they all plunge in after it ; but 
as soon as it is caught no one more may enter the water. The 
boy who did not enter the water or entered it last will die 
within the year, and he is obliged to carry the Death back 
to the village. The effigy is then burned.* On the other 
hand, it is believed that no one will die within the year in 
the house out of which the figure of Death has been 
carried ; ® and the village out of which Death has been 
driven is sometimes supposed to be protected against sickness 
and plague.^ In some villages of Austrian Silesia on the 
Saturday before Dead Sunday an &^gY is made of old 
clothes, hay, and straw, for the purpose of driving Death out 
of the village. On Sunday the people, armed with sticks 

' W. Miiller, Beitrdge zur Volks- P. Drechsler, op. cit. i. 70. See also 

kunde der Deutschen in Mdhren above, p. 236. 

(Vienna and Olmiitz, 1893), pp. 353- * Th. Vemaleken, Mythen und 

355. Brauche des Volkes in Osterreich 

2 J. Grimm, Deutsche Mytholagie,^ (Vienna, 1859), pp. 294 sq.; Reins- 
ii. 644; K. Haupt, Sagenbuch der berg-Duringsfeld, Fest- Kalender aus 
Lausitz (Leipsic, 1862-1863), ii. 55; Bohmen, p. 90. 

P. Drechsler, Sitte, Brauch und Volks- * See above, p. 236. 

glaube in Schlesien, i. 70 sq. ^ See above, pp. 234, 235, 236, 

3 J. Grimm, op. cit. ii. 640, 643 ; 237. 


and straps, assemble before the house where the figure is 
lodged. Four lads then draw the effigy by cords through 
the village amid exultant shouts, while all the others beat it 
with their sticks and straps. On reaching a field which 
belongs to a neighbouring village they lay down the figure, 
cudgel it soundly, and scatter the fragments over the field. 
The people believe that the village from which Death has 
been thus carried out will be safe from any infectious disease 
for the whole year.^ In Slavonia the figure of Death is 
cudgelled and then rent in two.^ In Poland the effigy, 
made of hemp and straw, is flung into a pool or swamp 
with the words " The devil take thee." ^ 

S 5. Sawing the Old Woman 

Sawing The custom of " Sawing the Old Woman," which is or 

Woman at *^sed to be obscrvcd in Italy, France, and Spain on the fourth 
Mid-Lent Sunday in Lent, is doubtless, as Grimm supposes, merely 
^ ^' another form of the custom of " Carrying out Death." A 
great hideous figure representing the oldest woman of the 
village was dragged out and sawn in two, amid a prodigious 
noise made with cow-bells, pots and pans, and so forth.* In 
Palermo the representation used to be still more lifelike. 
At Mid-Lent an old woman was drawn through the streets 
on a cart, attended by two men dressed in the costume of 
the Compagnia d^ Bianchi, a society or religious order whose 
function it was to attend and console prisoners condemned 
to death. A scaffold was erected in a public square ; the 
old woman mounted it, and two mock executioners proceeded, 
amid a storm of huzzas and hand-clapping, to saw through 
her neck, or rather through a bladder of blood which had 
been previously fitted to it. The blood gushed out and the 
old woman pretended to swoon and die. The last of these 
mock executions took place in 1737.^ In Florence, during 

1 Reinsberg-Diiringsfeld, Das /est- ii. 652 ; H. Usener, " Italische 
lichejahr (Leipsic, 1863), p. 80. Mythen," Rhdnisches Museum, N.F., 

^ W. R. S. Ralston, Songs of tht xxx. (1875) pp. 191 sq. 
Russian People (London, 1872), p. 6 Q. Yitik, Speitacoli efeste popolari 

211. siciliane (Palermo, 1881), pp. 207 sq., 

2 Ibid. p. 210. id., Usi e costumi, credemte e pregiu- 
* J. Grimm, Deutsche Mytholo^ie,'^ dizi del popolo siciliano, i, 107 sq. 


the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Old Woman was 
represented by a figure stuffed with walnuts and dried figs 
and fastened to the top of a ladder. At Mid-Lent this 
effigy was sawn through the middle under the Loggie of the 
Mercato Nuovo, and as the dried fruits tumbled out they 
were scrambled for by the crowd. A trace of the custom 
is still to be seen in the practice, observed by urchins, of 
secretly pinning paper ladders to the shoulders of women of 
the lower classes who happen to shew themselves in the 
streets on the morning of Mid-Lent.^ A similar custom is 
observed by urchins in Rome ; and at Naples on the first of 
April boys cut strips of cloth into the shape of saws, smear 
them with gypsum, and strike passers-by with their " saws " 
on the back, thus imprinting the figure of a saw upon their 
clothes.^ At Montalto, in Calabria, boys go about at Mid- 
Lent with little saws made of cane and jeer at old people, 
who therefore generally stay indoors on that day. The 
Calabrian women meet together at this time and feast on 
figs, chestnuts, honey, and so forth ; this they call " Sawing 
the Old Woman " — a reminiscence probably of a custom 
like the old Florentine one.^ In Lombardy the Thursday 
of Mid-Lent is known as the Day of the Old Wives (Jl 
giorno delle vecchie). The children run about crying out for 
the oldest woman, whom they wish to burn ; and failing to 
possess themselves of the original, they make a puppet 
representing her, which in the evening is consumed on a 
bonfire. On the Lake of Garda the blaze of light flaring at 
different points on the hills produces a picturesque effect.* 

In Berry, a region of central France, the custom of " Saw- Sawing 
ing the Old Woman " at Mid-Lent used to be popular, and woman at 
has probably not wholly died out even now. Here the name Mid-Lent 
of " Fairs of the old Wives " was given to certain fairs held 
in Lent, at which children were made to believe that they 
would see the Old Woman of Mid-Lent split or sawn asunder. 
At Argenton and Cluis-Dessus, when Mid-Lent has come, 
children of ten or twelve years of age scour the streets with 

' Archivio per lo studio delle tradi- popolari della Calabria citeriore (Co- 

zioni popolari, iv. (1885) pp. 294 sq. senza, 1884), pp. 43 sq. 

2 H. Usener, op. cit. p. 193. * E. Martinengo-Cesaresco, in The 

' Vincenzo Dorsa, La Tradizione Academy, No. 671, March 14, 1885, 

greco-latina negli usi e nelle credenze p. 188. 

PT. in R 


wooden swords, pursue the old crones whom they meet, 
and even try to break into the houses where ancient dames 
are known to live. Passers-by, who see the children thus 
engaged, say, " They are going to cut or sabre the Old 
Woman." Meantime the old wives take care to keep out of 
sight as much as possible. When the children of Cluis- 
Dessus have gone their rounds, and the day draws towards 
evening, they repair to Cluis-Dessous, where they mould a 
rude figure of an old woman out of clay, hew it in pieces 
with their wooden swords, and throw the bits into the river. 
At Bourges on the same day, an effigy representing an old 
woman was formerly sawn in two on the crier's stone in a 
public square. About the middle of the nineteenth century, 
in the same town and on the same day, hundreds of children 
assembled at the Hospital " to see the old woman split or 
divided in two." A religious service was held in the build- 
ing on this occasion, which attracted many idlers. In the 
streets it was not uncommon to hear cries of " Let us cleave 
the Old Wife 1 let us cleave the oldest woman of the ward ! " 
At Tulle, on the day of Mid-Lent, the people used to enquire 
after the oldest woman in the town, and to tell the children 
that at mid-day punctually she was to be sawn in two at 
Sawing In Barcelona on the fourth Sunday in Lent boys run 

Wom'^ at ^bout the streets, some with saws, others with billets of wood, 
Mid-Lent others again with cloths in which they collect gratuities. 
Lnd ^Jirag They sing a song in which it is said that they are looking 
the Slavs, for the oldest woman of the city for the purpose of sawing 
her in two in honour of Mid-Lent ; at last, pretending to 
have found her, they saw something in two and burn it. A 
like custom is found amongst the South Slavs. In Lent the 
Croats tell their .children that at noon an old woman is being 
sawn in two outside the gates ; and in Carniola also the say- 
ing is current that at Mid-Lent an old woman is taken out 
of the village and sawn in two. The North Slavonian ex- 
pression for keeping Mid-Lent is bdbu rezati, that is, "sawing 
the Old Wife." ^ In the Graubiinden Canton of Switzerland, 

1 Laisnel de la Salle, Croyances et ii. 652 ; H. Usener, " Italische 
ligendes du centre de la France (Paris, Mythen," Rheinisches Mtiseum, N.F., 
1875). i- 43 ^?- xxx. (1875) pp. 191 sq. 

2 J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie,^ 


on Invocavit Sunday, grown people used to assemble in the 
ale-house and there saw in two a straw puppet which they 
called Mrs. Winter or the Ugly Woman (bagorda), while the 
children in the streets teased each other with wooden saws.^ 

Among the gypsies of south-eastern Europe the custom sawing 
of " sawing the Old Woman in two " is observed in a '?? °^'* 

, Woman 

very graphic form, not at Mid-Lent, but on the afternoon on Paim 
of Palm Sunday. The Old Woman, represented by a ^"""^^y.^ 

-^ 1 sr J among the 

puppet of straw dressed in women's clothes, is laid across gypsies. 
a beam in some open place and beaten with clubs by 
the assembled gypsies, after which it is sawn in two 
by a young man and a maiden, both of whom wear a 
disguise. While the effigy is being sawn through, the rest of 
the company dance round it singing songs of various sorts. 
The remains of the figure are finally burnt, and the ashes 
thrown into a stream. The ceremony is supposed by the 
gypsies themselves to be observed in honour of a certain 
Shadow Queen ; hence Palm Sunday goes by the name 
Shadow Day among all the strolling gypsies of eastern and 
southern Europe. According to the popular belief, this 
Shadow Queen, of whom the gypsies of to-day have only a 
very vague and confused conception, vanishes underground 
at the appearance of spring, but comes forth again at the 
beginning of winter to plague mankind during that in- 
clement season with sickness, hunger, and death. Among 
the vagrant gypsies of southern Hungary the effigy is 
regarded as an expiatory and thank offering made to the 
Shadow Queen for having spared the people during the 
winter. In Transylvania the gypsies who live in tents clothe 
the puppet in the cast-off garments of the woman who has 
last become a widow. The widow herself gives the clothes 
gladly for this purpose, because she thinks that being burnt 
they will pass into the possession of her departed husband, 
who will thus have no excuse for returning from the spirit-land 
to visit her. The ashes are thrown by the Transylvanian 
gypsies on the first graveyard that they pass on their journey.^ 

IE. Hoffmann -Krayer, " Frucht- ^ H. vonyN\ii\o6d, Vblksglaube imd 

barkeitsriten im schweizerischen Volks- religioser Brauch der Zigeuner(Winstex 

branch," Schweizerisches Archiv fiir i. W., 1 891), pp. 14S ■f?- 
Volkskunde, xi. (1903) P- 239- 


In this gypsy custom the equivalence of the effigy of the Old 
Woman to the effigy of Death in the customs we have just 
been considering comes out very clearly, thus strongly con- 
firming the opinion of Grimm that the practice of " sawing 
the Old Woman " is only another form of the practice of 
" carrying out Death." 
Seven- The Same perhaps may be said of a somewhat different 

Iffi^fet of ^°'^^ which the custom assumes in parts of Spain and Italy. 
Lent in In Spain it is sometimes usual on Ash Wednesday to 
^''^"' fashion an effigy of stucco or pasteboard representing a 
hideous old woman with seven legs, wearing a crown of sorrel 
and spinach, and holding a sceptre in her hand. The seven 
skinny legs stand for the seven weeks of the Lenten fast 
which begins on Ash Wednesday. This monster, proclaimed 
Queen of Lent amid the chanting of lugubrious songs, is 
carried in triumph through the crowded streets and public 
places. On reaching the principal square the people put out 
their torches, cease shouting, and disperse. Their revels are 
now ended, and they take a vow to hold no more merry 
meetings until all the legs of the old woman have fallen one 
by one and she has been beheaded. The ^^%y is then 
deposited in some place appointed for the purpose, where 
the public is admitted to see it during the whole of Lent. 
Every week, on Saturday evening, one of the Queen's legs is 
pulled off; and on Holy Saturday, when from every church 
tower the joyous clangour of the bells proclaims the glad 
tidings that Christ is risen, the mutilated body of the fallen 
Queen is carried with great solemnity to the principal square 
and publicly beheaded.^ 
Seven- A custom of the same sort prevails in various parts of 

efigS of Italy. Thus in the Abruzzi they hang a puppet of tow. 
Lent in representing Lent, to a cord, which stretches across the street 
^^' from one window to another. Seven feathers are attached 
to the figure, and in its hand it grasps a distaff and spindle. 
Every Saturday in Lent one of the seven feathers is plucked 
out, and on Holy Saturday, while the bells are ringing, a 

1 E. Cortet, Essai sur Us fltes sq. A similar custom appears to be 

re/igieuses (Paris, 1867), pp. 107 sq.; observed in Minorca. See Globus, lix. 

Laisnel de la Salle, Croyances ei (1891) pp. 279, 280. 
les du centre de la France, i. 45 


string of chestnuts is burnt for the purpose of sending Lent 
and its meagre fare to the devil. In houses, too, it is usual to 
amuse children by cutting the figure of an old woman with 
seven legs out of pasteboard and sticking it beside the 
chimney. The old woman represents Lent, and her seven legs 
are the seven weeks of the fast ; every Saturday one of the 
legs is amputated. At Mid-Lent the effigy is cut through 
the middle, and the part of which the feet have been already 
amputated is removed. Sometimes the figure is stuffed 
with sweets, dried fruits, and halfpence, for which the street 
urchins scramble when the puppet is bisected.^ In the 
Sorrentine peninsula Lent is similarly represented by the 
effigy of a wrinkled old hag with a spindle and distaff, 
which is fastened to a balcony or a window. Attached to 
the figure is an orange with as many feathers stuck into it 
as there are weeks in Lent, and at the end of each week one 
of the feathers is plucked out. At Mid-Lent the puppet is 
sawn in two, an operation which is sometimes attended by a 
gush of blood from a bladder concealed in the interior of the 
figure. Any old women who shew themselves in the streets 
on that day are exposed to jibes and jests, and may be 
warned that they ought to remain at home.^ At Castel- 
lamare, to the south of Naples, an English lady observed a 
rude puppet dangling from a string which spanned one of 
the narrow streets of the old town, being fastened at either 
end, high overhead, to the upper part of the many-storied 
houses. The puppet, about a foot long, was dressed all 
in black, rather like a nun, and from the skirts projected 
five or six feathers which bore a certain resemblance to legs. 
A peasant being asked what these things meant, replied 
with Italian vagueness, " It is only Lent." Further enquiries, 
however, elicited the information that at the end of every 
week in Lent one of the feather legs was pulled off the 
puppet, and that the puppet was finally destroyed on the last 
day of Lent.^ 

' A. de Nino, Usi e costumi abruz- ^ G. Amalfi, Tradizioni ed usi nella 

zest, ii. 203-205 (Florence, 1881); G. Pmisola Sorrentina (Palermo, 1890), 

Finamore, Credenze, usi e costumi p. 41- 

abruzzesi (Palermo, 1890), pp. 112, ^ Lucy E. VtrnzA^ooA, \u Folk-lore, 

114. iv. (1893) P- 390. 

custom of 


S 6. Bringing in Summer 

In the preceding ceremonies the return of Spring, Summer, 
carrying or Life, as a sequel to the expulsion of Death, is only implied 
iTotoT'^ or at most announced. In the following ceremonies it is 
followed plainly enacted. Thus in some parts of Bohemia the effigy of 
cJremony Death is drowned by being thrown into the water at sunset ; 
of bringing then the girls go out into the wood and cut down a young 
in which ' tree with a green crown, hang a doll dressed as a woman on 
the Sum- jt^ deck the whole with green, red, and white ribbons, and 
presented march in procession with their Lito (Summer) into the 
byatreeor yjjj^gg^ Collecting gifts and singing — 

" Death swims in the water. 
Spring comes to visit us. 
With eggs that are red. 
With yellow pancakes. 
We carried Death out of the village. 
We are carrying Summer into the village.'" 1 

In many Silesian villages the figure of Death, after being 
treated with respect, is stript of its clothes and flung with 
curses into the water, or torn to pieces in a field. Then the 
young folk repair to a wood, cut down a small fir-tree, peel 
the trunk, and deck it with festoons of evergreens, paper 
roses, painted egg-shells, motley bits of cloth, and so forth. 
The tree thus adorned is called Summer or May. Boys 
carry it from house to house singing appropriate songs and 
begging for presents. Among their songs is the following : — 

" We have carried Death out. 
We are bringing the dear Summer back. 
The Summer and the May 
And all the flowers gay." 

Sometimes they also bring back from the wood a prettily 
adorned figure, which goes by the name of Summer, May, or 
the Bride ; in the Polish districts it is called Dziewanna, the 
goddess of spring.^ 

' Reinsberg-Duringsfeld,i^isj/-Aa/«K- « P. Drechsler, Sitte, Branch und 

der aus BoAmen, -pp. 8g sj.;W. Murm- Volksglauhe in Schlesien, i. 71 sqg.; 
hardt, Baumkultus, p. 156. This Reinsberg-DUringsfeld, Das festliche 

custom has been already referred to. ya^ p. 82; Philo vomWalde, 5^>5/m/«« 

See The Magic Art and the Evolution in Sage und Brauch (Berlin, n.d. 

of Kings, ii. 73 sq. preface dated 1883), p. 122. 



At Eisenach on the fourth Sunday in Lent young 
people used to fasten a straw-man, representing Death, to a 
wheel, which they trundled to the top of a hill. Then setting 
fire to the figure they allowed it and the wheel to roll down 
the slope. Next they cut a tall fir-tree, tricked it out with 
ribbons, and set it up in the plain. The men then climbed 
the tree to fetch down the ribbons.^ In Upper Lusatia the 
figure of Death, made of straw and rags, is dressed in a veil 
furnished by the last bride and a shirt provided by the house 
in which the last death took place. Thus arrayed the figure 
is stuck on the end of a long pole and carried at full speed 
by the tallest and strongest girl, while the rest pelt the effigy 
with sticks and stones. Whoever hits it will be sure to live 
through the year. In this way Death is carried out of the 
village and thrown into the water or over the boundary of the 
next village. On their way home each one breaks a green 
branch and carries it gaily with him till he reaches the village, 
when he throws it away. Sometimes the young people of the 
next village, upon whose land the figure has been thrown, run 
after them and hurl it back, not wishing to have Death among 
them. Hence the two parties occasionally come to blows.^ 

In these cases Death is represented by the puppet which New 
is thrown away, Summer or Life by the branches or trees P°'?°'=y 
which are brought back. But sometimes a new potency of ascribed to 
life seems to be attributed to the image of Death itself, and o^ o^th^ 
by a kind of resurrection it becomes the instrument of the 
general revival. Thus in some parts of Lusatia women alone 
are concerned in carrying out Death, and suffer no male to 
meddle with it. Attired in mourning, which they wear the 
whole day, they make a puppet of straw, clothe it in a white 
shirt, and give it a broom in one hand and a scythe in the 
other. Singing songs and pursued by urchins throwing 
stones, they carry the puppet to the village boundary, 
where they tear it in pieces. Then they cut down a fine 
tree, hang the shirt on it, and carry it home singing.* On 

1 A. Witzschel, Sagen, Sitten und Baumkultus, pp. 412 sq.; W. R. S. 
Gebrduche aus Thuringen, pp. 192 sq.; Ralston, Songs of the Russian People, 
compare pp. 297 sqq. p. 211. 

2 J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie,* ^ J. Grimm, op. cit. ii. 644 ; K. 
ii. 643 sq.; K. Haupt, Sagenbuch der Haupt, op. cit. ii. 55- 

Lausitz, ii. 54 sq.; W. Mannhardt, 




out Death 
at Braller 
in Tran- 

the Feast of Ascension the Saxons of Braller, a village 
of Transylvania, not far from Hermannstadt, observe the 
ceremony of " Carrying out Death " in the following 
manner. After morning service all the school-girls repair 
to the house of one of their number, and there dress up the 
Death. This is done by tying a threshed-out sheaf of corn 
into a rough semblance of a head and body, while the arms 
are simulated by a broomstick thrust through it horizontally. 
The figure is dressed in the holiday attire of a young 
peasant woman, with a red hood, silver brooches, and a 
profusion of ribbons at the arms and breast. The girls 
bustle at their work, for soon the bells will be ringing to 
vespers, and the Death must be ready in time to be placed 
at the open window, that all the people may see it on their 
way to church. When vespers are over, the longed-for 
moment has come for the first procession with the Death to 
begin ; it is a privilege that belongs to the school -girls 
alone. Two of the older girls seize the figure by the arms 
and walk in front : all the rest follow two and two. Boys 
may take no part in the procession, but they troop after it 
gazing with open-mouthed admiration at the "beautiful 
Death." So the procession goes through all the streets of 
the village, the girls singing the old hymn that begins — 

" Gott mein Vater, deine Liebe 
Reicht so weit der Himmel ist" 

to a tune that differs from the ordinary one. When the 
procession has wound its way through every street, the girls 
go to another house, and having shut the door against the 
eager prying crowd of boys who follow at their heels, they 
strip the Death and pass the naked truss of straw out of 
the window to the boys, who pounce on it, run out of the 
village with it without singing, and fling the dilapidated 
effigy into the neighbouring brook. This done, the second 
scene of the little drama begins. While the boys were 
carrying away the Death out of the village, the girls 
remained in the house, and one of them is now dressed in all 
the finery which had been worn by the effigy. Thus arrayed 
she is led in procession through all the streets to the singing 
of the same hymn as before. When the procession is over 


they all betake themselves to the house of the girl who 
played the leading part. Here a feast awaits them from 
which also the boys are excluded. It is a popular belief 
that the children may safely begin to eat gooseberries and 
other fruit after the day on which Death has thus been 
carried out ; for Death, which up to that time lurked espe- 
cially in gooseberries, is now destroyed. Further, they may 
now bathe with impunity out of doors.^ Very similar is the 
ceremony which, down to recent years, was observed in some 
of the German villages of Moravia. Boys and girls met on 
the afternoon of the first Sunday after Easter, and together 
fashioned a puppet of straw to represent Death. Decked 
with bright-coloured ribbons and cloths, and fastened to the 
top of a long pole, the effigy was then borne with singing 
and clamour to the nearest height, where it was stript of its 
gay attire and thrown or rolled down the slope. One of 
the girls was next dressed in the gauds taken from the 
effigy of Death, and with her at its head the procession 
moved back to the village. In some villages the practice 
is to bury the effigy in the place that has the most evil 
reputation of all the country-side: others throw it into 
running water.^ ' 

In the Lusatian ceremony described above,' the tree Life-giving 
which is brought home after the destruction of the figure of ™ribed to 
Death is plainly equivalent to the trees or branches which, the effigy 
in the preceding customs, were brought back as representa- ° 
tives of Summer or Life, after Death had been thrown away 
or destroyed. But the transference of the shirt worn by the 
effigy of Death to the tree clearly indicates that the tree is 
a kind of revivification, in a new form, of the destroyed effigy.* 
This comes out also in the Transylvanian and Moravian 
customs : the dressing of a girl in the clothes worn by the 
Death, and the leading her about the village to the same 
song which had been sung when the Death was being 

1 J. K. SchuUer, Das Todaustragen ^ VH.MuWer, BeitrdgezurVolkskunde 

und der Muorlef, ein Beitragzur Kunde der Deutschen in Mdhren (Vienna and 

sdchsischer Sitte und Sage in Sieben- Olmutz, 1893), pp. 258 sq. 
biirgen (Hermannstadt, 1 861), pp. 4 3 p 247. 

sq. The description of this ceremony 

by Miss E. Gerard (The Land beyond * This is also the view taken of the 

the Forest, ii. 47-49) is plainly borrowed custom by W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, 

from Mr. Schuller's little work. p. 419- 


carried about, shew that she is intended to be a kind of 
resuscitation of the being whose effigy has just been destroyed. 
These examples therefore suggest that the Death whose 
demoHtion is represented in these ceremonies cannot be 
regarded as the purely destructive agent which we under- 
stand by Death. If the tree which is brought back as an 
embodiment of the reviving vegetation of spring is clothed 
in the shirt worn by the Death which has just been destroyed, 
the object certainly cannot be to check and counteract the 
revival of vegetation : it can only be to foster and promote 
it. Therefore the being which has just been destroyed — the 
so-called Death — must be supposed to be endowed with a 
vivifying and quickening influence, which it can communi- 
cate to the vegetable and even the animal world. This 
ascription of a life-giving virtue to the figure of Death is put 
beyond a doubt by the custom, observed in some places, of 
taking pieces of the straw effigy of Death and placing them 
in the fields to make the crops grow, or in the manger to 
make the cattle thrive. Thus in Spachendorf, a village of 
Austrian Silesia, the figure of Death, made of straw, brush- 
wood, and rags, is carried with wild songs to an open place 
outside the village and there burned, and while it is burning 
a general struggle takes place for the pieces, which are pulled 
out of the flames with bare hands. Each one who secures 
a fragment of the effigy ties it to a branch of the largest 
tree in his garden, or buries it in his field, in the belief that 
this causes the crops to grow better.^ In the Troppau 
district of Austrian Silesia the straw figure which the boys 
make on the fourth Sunday in Lent is dressed by the girls 
in woman's clothes and hung with ribbons, necklace, and 
garlands. Attached to a long pole it is carried out of the 
village, followed by a troop of young people of both sexes, 
who alternately frolic, lament, and sing songs. Arrived at 
its destination — a field outside the village — the figure is 
stripped of its clothes and ornaments ; then the crowd 
rushes at it and tears it to bits, scuffling for the fragments. 
Every one tries to get a wisp of the straw of which the 
effigy was made, because such a wisp, placed in the manger, 

' Th. Vernaleken, Mythen and Brduche des Volkes in Osterreich, pp. 
293 •!■?• 


is believed to make the cattle thrive.^ Or the straw is put 
in the hens' nest, it being supposed that this prevents the 
hens from carrying away their eggs, and makes them brood 
much better.^ The same attribution of a fertilising power 
to the figure of Death appears in the belief that if the 
bearers of the figure, after throwing it away, beat cattle 
with their sticks, this will render the beasts fat or prolific' 
Perhaps the sticks had been previously used to beat the 
Death,* and so had acquired the fertilising power ascribed 
to the effigy. We have seen, too, that at Leipsic a straw 
effigy of Death was shewn to young wives to make them 

It seems hardly possible to separate from the May-trees The 
the trees or branches which are brought into the village ^g™™^"^' 
after the destruction of the Death. The bearers who equivalent 
bring them in profess to be bringing in the Summer,^ [°gg^ ^^' 
therefore the trees obviously represent the Summer ; 
indeed in Silesia they are commonly called the Summer 
or the May,'^ and the doll which is sometimes attached 
to the Summer-tree is a duplicate representative of 
the Summer, just as the May is sometimes repre- 
sented at the same time by a May-tree and a May 
Lady.^ Further, the Summer-trees are adorned like May- 
trees with ribbons and so on ; like May-trees, when large, 
they are planted in the ground and climbed up ; and like 
May-trees, when small, they are carried from door to door 
by boys or girls singing songs and collecting money." And 
as if to demonstrate the identity of the two sets of customs 
the bearers of the Summer-tree sometimes announce that 
they are bringing in the Summer and the May.^" The 
customs, therefore, of bringing in the May and bringing in 
the Summer are essentially the same ; and the Summer-tree 
is merely another form of the May-tree, the only distinction 

1 Reinsberg - Duringsfeld, Das f est- ^ Above, p. 246. 
lichejahr, p. 82. ' Above, p. 246. 

2 Philo vom Walde, Scklesien in * See The Magic Art and the EtjoIu- 
Sage und Branch, p. 122 ; P. Drechs- tion of Kings, ii. 73 sqq. 

ler, Sitte, Branch und Volksglaube in ' Above, p. 246, and J. Grimm, 

Schlesien, i. 74. Deutsche Mythologie,^ ii. 644 ; Reins- 

3 See above, p. 236. berg-DUiingsfeld, Fest - /Calender aus 

* See above, pp. 239 sq. Bohmen, pp. 87 sq. 

* See above, p. 236. '" Above, p. 246. 


(besides that of name) being in the tinne at which they are 
respectively brought in ; for while the May-tree is usually 
fetched in on the first of May or at Whitsuntide, the Summer- 
tree is fetched in on the fourth Sunday in Lent. Therefore, 
if the May-tree is an embodiment of the tree-spirit or spirit 
of vegetation, the Summer-tree must likewise be an em- 
Butthe bodiment of the tree-spirit or spirit of vegetation. But we 
fjl^STT have seen that the Summer-tree is in some cases a revivifica- 
revival of tion of the effigy of Death. It follows, therefore, that in these 
of'oSft^; cases the effigy called Death must be an embodiment of the 
hence the tree-Spirit or spirit of vegetation. This inference is confirmed, 
Deafh ° fi^st, by the vivifying and fertilising influence which the frag- 
must be an ments of the effigy of Death are believed to exercise both on 
ment of the vegetable and on animal life ; ^ for this influence, as we saw in 
spirit of ^jjg flj-g^ part of this work,^ is supposed to be a special attribute 

vesretation, ' x a a 

of the tree-spirit. It is confirmed, secondly, by observing that 
the effigy of Death is sometimes decked with leaves or made 
of twigs, branches, hemp, or a threshed-out sheaf of corn ; ^ 
and that sometimes it is hung on a little tree and so carried 
about by girls collecting money,* just as is done with the 
May-tree and the May Lady, and with the Summer-tree and 
the doll attached to it. In short we are driven to regard 
the expulsion of Death and the bringing in of Summer as, 
in some cases at least, merely another form of that death 
and revival of the spirit of vegetation in spring which we 
saw enacted in the killing and resurrection of the Wild 
Man.^ The burial and resurrection of the Carnival is prob- 
ably another way of expressing the same idea. The inter- 
ment of the representative of the Carnival under a dung- 
heap" is natural, if he is supposed to possess a quickening and 
fertilising influence like that ascribed to the effigy of Death. 
The Esthonians, indeed, who carry the straw figure out of 
the village in the usual way on Shrove Tuesday, do not call it 
the Carnival, but the Wood-spirit {Metsik), and they clearly 

' See above, pp. 250 sq. der atts Bohmen, p. 88. Sometimes 

^ See The Magic Art and the Evolu- the effigy of Death (without a tree) is 

tion of Kings, ii. 45 sqq. carried round by boys who collect 

2 Above, pp. 234, 235, 240, 248, gratuities (J. Grimm, Deutsche Mytho- 

250 ; and J. Grimm, Deutsche Mytho- logie,* ii. 644). 
logie,'^ ii. 643. ^ Above, p. 208. 

* Reinsberg-Dliringsfeld, /^srf-Aa&?2- " Above, p. 231. 


indicate the identity of the effigy with the wood-spirit by 
fixing it to the top of a tree in the wood, where it remains 
for a year, and is besought almost daily with prayers and 
offerings to protect the herds ; for like a true wood-spirit the 
Metsik is a patron of cattle. Sometimes the Metsik is made 
of sheaves of corn.^ 

Thus we may fairly conjecture that the names Carnival, The names 
Death, and Summer are comparatively late and inadequate D^t™and 
expressions for the beings personified or embodied in the Summer 
customs with which we have been dealing. The very ab- preceding 
stractness of the names bespeaks a modern origin ; for the customs 
personification of times and seasons like the Carnival and c^y™ an 
Summer, or of an abstract notion like death, is hardly ancient 
primitive. But the ceremonies themselves bear the stamp or^splrit'of 
of a dateless antiquity ; therefore we can hardly help sup- vegetation. 
posing that in their origin the ideas which they embodied 
were of a more simple and concrete order. The notion of a 
tree, perhaps of a particular kind of tree (for some savages 
have no word for tree in general), or even of an individual 
tree, is sufficiently concrete to supply a basis from which by 
a gradual process of generalisation the wider idea of a spirit 
of vegetation might be reached. But this general idea of 
vegetation would readily be confounded with the season in 
which it manifests itself; hence the substitution of Spring, 
Summer, or May for the tree-spirit or spirit of vegetation 
would be easy and natural. Again, the concrete notion of 
the dying tree or dying vegetation would by a similar process 
of generalisation glide into a notion of death in general ; so 
that the practice of carrying out the dying or dead vegeta- 
tion in spring, as a preliminary to its revival, would in time 
widen out into an attempt to banish Death in general from 
the village or district. The view that in these spring cere- 
monies Death meant originally the dying or dead vegetation 
of winter has the high support of W. Mannhardt ; and he 
confirms it by the analogy of the name Death as applied to 
the spirit of the ripe corn. Commonly the spirit of the ripe 

1 Y. ]. V^ ieAem2.xm, Aus ckminneren schaft zu Dorfat, vii. Heft 2, pp. 10 

und dusseren Leben der Ehsten, p. 353 ; sq. ; '^ . Mannhardt, Baumkulius, pp. 

Holzmayer, "Osiliana," in Verhand- 40J sg. 
lungen der gelekrten Estnischen Gesell- 


corn is conceived, not as dead, but as old, and hence it goes 
by the name of the Old Man or the Old Woman. But in 
some places the last sheaf cut at harvest, which is generally 
believed to be the seat of the corn spirit, is called " the Dead 
One " : children are warned against entering the corn-fields 
because Death sits in the corn ; and, in a game played by 
Saxon children in Transylvania at the maize harvest, Death 
is represented by a child completely covered with maize 

S 7. Battle of Summer and Winter 

Dramatic Sometimes in the popular customs of the peasantry the 

contests contrast between the dormant powers of vegetation in winter 
representa- and their awakening vitality in spring takes the form of a 
Summer dramatic contest between actors who play the parts respec- 
and tively of Winter and Summer. Thus in the towns of Sweden 

on May Day two troops of young men on horseback used to 
meet as if for mortal combat. One of them was led by a 
representative of Winter clad in furs, who threw snowballs 
and ice in order to prolong the cold weather. The other 
troop was commanded by a representative of Summer covered 
with fresh leaves and flowers. In the sham fight which 
followed the party of Summer came off victorious, and the 
ceremony ended with a feast.^ Again, in the region of the 
middle Rhine, a representative of Summer clad in ivy combats 
a representative of Winter clad in straw or moss and finally 
gains a victory over him. The vanquished foe is thrown to 
the ground and stripped of his casing of straw, which is torn 
to pieces and scattered about, while the youthful comrades of 
the two champions sing a song to commemorate the defeat of 
Winter by Summer. Afterwards they carry about a summer 
garland or branch and collect gifts of eggs and bacon from 
house to house. Sometimes the champion who acts the part 
of Summer is dressed in leaves and flowers and wears a 
chaplet of flowers on his head. In the Palatinate this mimic 

1 W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, pp. II, 1902, p. 2, there is a description 

417-421. of this ceremony as it used to be per- 

^ Olaus Magnus, De gentium sep- formed in Stockholm. The description 

tentrionalium variis conditionibus, xv. 8 seems to be borrowed from Olaus 

sq. In Le Temps, No. 15,669, May Magnus. 


conflict takes place on the fourth Sunday in Lent.^ All over 
Bavaria the same drama used to be acted on the same day, 
and it was still kept up in some places down to the middle 
of the nineteenth century or later. While Summer appeared 
clad all in green, decked with fluttering ribbons, and carrying 
a branch in blossom or a little tree hung with apples and 
pears, Winter was muffled up in cap and mantle of fur and 
bore in his hand a snow-shovel or a flail. Accompanied by 
their respective retinues dressed in corresponding attire, they 
went through all the streets of the village, halting before the 
houses and singing staves of old songs, for which they 
received presents of bread, eggs, and fruit. Finally, after a 
short struggle, Winter was beaten by Summer and ducked in 
the village well or driven out of the village with shouts and 
laughter into the forest.^ In some parts of Bavaria the boys 
who play the parts of Winter and Summer act their little 
drama in every house that they visit, and engage in a war 
of words before they come to blows, each of them vaunting 
the pleasures and benefits of the season he represents and 
disparaging those of the other. The dialogue is in verse. A 
few couplets may serve as specimens : — 


" Green, green are meadows wherever I pass 
And t?ie mowers are busy among the grass." 


" White, white are the meadows wherever I go. 
And the sledges glide hissing across the snow'' 


" ril climb up the tree where the red cherries glow. 
And Winter can stand by himself down below." 


" With you I will climb the cherry-tree tall. 
Its branches will kindle the fire in the hall." 

1 J. Grimm, Deutsche Mytholo^e,^ Cesellschaft fur Anthropologie, 1895, 

ii. 637-639; Bavaria, Landes- und p. (145) ; A. Dieterich, " Sommertag," 

Volkskunde des Konigreichs Bayem, Archiv fiir Religionswissenschaft, viii. 

iv. 2, pp. 357 sq. See also E. Krause, (190S) Beiheft, pp. 82 sqq. 

"Das Sommertags-Fest in Heidel- "^ Bavaria, Landes- und Volkskunde 

berg," Verhandlungen der Berliner des Kdnigreicks Bayem, i. 369 sq. 



" O Winter, you are most uncivil 
To send old wovien to the devil." 


" By that I make them, warm and mellow. 
So let them bawl and let them bellow." 


" / am the Summer in white array, 
I'm chasing the Winter far, far away!' 


" / atn the Winter in mantle of furs, 
Fm chasing the Summer (fer bushes and burs'' 


"Just say a word more, and III have you bann'd 
At once and for ever from Summer land." 


" O Summer, for all your bluster and brag. 
You'd not dare to carry a hen in a bag." 


" O Winter, your chatter no more can I stay, 
I'll kick and I'll cuff you without delay." 

Here ensues a scuffle between the two little boys, in which 
Summer gets the best of it, and turns Winter out of the 
house. But soon the beaten champion of Winter peeps in 
at the door and says with a humbled and crestfallen air : — 

" O Summer, dear Sumnur, Pm under your ban. 
For you are the master and I am the man!' 

To which Summer replies : — 

"'Tis a capital notion, an excellent plan. 
If I am the master and you are the 
So come, my dear Winter, and give me your hand, 
W^ll travel together to Summer Land." i 

' Bavaria, Landes- tind Volkskunde 167 sq. A dialogue in verse between 

des Konigreichs Bayern, ii. 259 sq.; representatives of Winter and Summer 

F. Panzer, Beitrag zur deutschen is spoken at Hartlieb in Silesia, near 

Mythologie, i. pp. 253-256 ; K. von Breslau. See Zeitschrift des Vereins 

Leoprechting, Aus dent Lechrain, pp. /«yFo/,4j-^«»rf«, iii. (1S93) pp. 226-228, 


At Goepfritz in Lower Austria, two men personating Dramatic 
Summer and Winter used to go from house to house on ^°"'^s'= 

=" between 

bhrove Tuesday, and were everywhere welcomed by the representa- 
children with great delight. The representative of Summer 3^^^^^ 
was clad in white and bore a sickle ; his comrade, who and 
played the part of Winter, had a fur-cap on his head, ^'"'^'^• 
his arms and legs were swathed in straw, and he carried 
a flail. In every house they sang verses alternately.^ 
At Dromling in Brunswick, down to the present time, 
the contest between Summer and Winter is acted every 
year at Whitsuntide by a troop of boys and a troop 
of girls. The boys rush singing, shouting, and ringing 
bells from house to house to drive Winter away ; after 
them come the girls singing softly and led by a May Bride, 
all in bright dresses and decked with flowers and garlands 
to represent the genial advent of spring. Formerly the 
part of Winter was played by a straw-man which the boys 
carried with them ; now it is acted by a real man in disguise.^ 
In Wachtl and Brodek, a German village and a little German 
town of Moravia, encompassed by Slavonic people on every 
side, the great change that comes over the earth in spring is 
still annually mimicked. The long village of Wachtl, with its 
trim houses and farmyards, nestles in a valley surrounded by 
pretty pine-woods. Here, on a day in spring, about the time 
of the vernal equinox, an elderly man with a long flaxen 
beard may be seen going from door to door. He is muffled 
in furs, with warm gloves on his hands and a bearskin cap 
on his head, and he carries a threshing flail. This is the 
personification of Winter. With him goes a younger beard- 
less man dressed in white, wearing a straw hat trimmed with 
gay ribbons on his head, and carrying a decorated May-tree 
in his hands. This is Summer. At every house they receive 
a friendly greeting and recite a long dialogue in verse. Winter 
punctuating his discourse with his flail, which he brings 
down with rude vigour on the backs of all within reach.^ 
Amongst the Slavonic population near Ungarisch Brod, in 
Moravia, the ceremony took a somewhat different form. 

' Th. Vernaleken, Mythen und kunde (Brunswick, 1896), p. 250. 

Brduche des Volkes in Osterreich, pp. ^ W. Miiller, Beitrdge aur Volks- 

297 sq. kunde der Deutschen in Mdhren, pp. 

'^ R. Andree, Braunschweiger Volks- 430-436. 

PT. Ill S 


Girls dressed in green marched in procession round a May- 
tree. Then two others, one in white and one in green, stepped 
up to the tree and engaged in a dialogue. Finally, the girl 
in white was driven away, but returned afterwards clothed in 
green, and the festival ended with a dance.^ 
Queen of On May Day it used to be customary in almost all the 

^d°Queen l^i'gs parishes of the Isle of Man to choose from among the 
of May in daughters of the wealthiest farmers a young maiden to be 
Man.^^^ °^ Queen of May. She was dressed in the gayest attire and 
attended by about twenty others, who were called maids of 
honour. She had also a young man for her captain with a 
number of inferior officers under him. In opposition to her 
was the Queen of Winter, a man attired as a woman, with 
woollen hoods, fur tippets, and loaded with the warmest and 
heaviest clothes, one upon another. Her attendants were 
habited in like manner, and she too had a captain and troop 
for her defence. Thus representing respectively the beauty of 
spring and the deformity of winter they set forth from their 
different quarters, the one preceded by the dulcet music of flutes 
and violins, the other by the harsh clatter of cleavers and tongs. 
In this array they marched till they met on a common, 
where the trains of the two mimic sovereigns engaged in a 
mock battle. If the Queen of Winter's forces got the better of 
their adversaries and took her rival prisoner, the captive 
Queen of Summer was ransomed for as much as would pay 
the expenses of the festival. After this ceremony. Winter 
and her company retired and diverted themselves in a barn, 
while the partisans of Summer danced on the green, con- 
cluding the evening with a feast, at which the Queen and 
her maids sat at one table and the captain and his troop at 
another. In later times the person of the Queen of May 
was exempt from capture, but one of her slippers was 
substituted and, if captured, had to be ransomed to defray 
the expenses of the pageant. The procession of the 
Summer, which was subsequently composed of little girls 
and called the Maceboard, outlived that of its rival the 
Winter for some years ; but both have now long been 
things of the past.^ 

1 W. Muller, op. cit. p. 259. Account of the Isle of Man (Douglas, 

° J. Txsxa^ Historical and Statistical Isle of Man, 1845), ii. 118-120. It 


Among the central Esquimaux of North America the Contests 
contest between representatives of summer and winter, j-epresenta- 
which in Europe has long degenerated into a mere dramatic tives of 
performance, is still kept up as a magical ceremony of which an™ winter 
the avowed intention is to influence the weather. In autumn, among the 
when storms announce the approach of the dismal Arctic ^^l,_ 
winter, the Esquimaux divide themselves into two parties 
called respectively the ptarmigans and the ducks, the ptarmi- 
gans comprising all persons born in winter, and the ducks 
all persons born in summer. A long rope of sealskin is then 
stretched out, and each party laying hold of one end of it 
seeks by tugging with might and main to drag the other 
party over to its side. If the ptarmigans get the worst of 
it, then summer has won the game and fine weather may be 
expected to prevail through the winter.^ In this ceremony it 
is clearly assumed that persons born in summer have a 
natural affinity with warm weather, and therefore possess a 
power of mitigating the rigour of winter, whereas persons 
born in winter are, so to say, of a cold and frosty disposition 
and can thereby exert a refrigerating influence on the tem- 
perature of the air. In spite of this natural antipathy 
between the representatives of summer and winter, we may 
be allowed to conjecture that in the grand tug of war the 
ptarmigans do not pull at the rope with the same hearty 
goodwill as the ducks, and that thus the genial influence of 
summer commonly prevails over the harsh austerity of winter. 
The Indians of Canada seem also to have imagined that 

has been suggested that the name food ; if summer should win, there will 

Maceboard may be a corruption of be a bad winter." See Fr. Boas, " The 

May-sports. Eskimo of BafEn Land and Hudson 

Bay," Bulletin of the American 

I Fr. Boas, " The Central Eskimo," Museum of Natural History, xv. 

Sixth. Annual Report of the Bureau of (1901) pp. 140 sq. At Memphis in 

Ethnology (Washington, 1888), p. 605. Egypt there were two statues in front 

The account of this custom given by of the temple of Hephaestus (Ptah), of 

Captain J. S. Mutch is as follows : which the more northern was popu- 

"The people take a long rope, the larly called Summer and the more 

ends of which are tied together. They southern Winter. The people wor- 

arrange themselves so that those born shipped the image of Summer and 

during the summer stand close to the execrated the image of Winter. It 

water, and those bom in the winter has been suggested that the two 

stand inland ; and then they pull at statues represented Osiris and Typhon, 

the rope to see whether summer or the good and the bad god. See 

winter is the stronger. If winter Herodotus, ii. 121, with the notes of 

should win, there will be plenty of Bahr and Wiedemann. 


Canadian pcrsons are endowed with distinct natural capacities accord- 
indians j^g ^^ ^ ^^^ \>orn in summer or winter, and they turned 

drove away a J r \ • ■> 

Winter the distinction to account in much the same fashion as the 
i^g'b^E^ds Esquimaux. When they wearied of the long frosts and the 
deep snow which kept them prisoners in their huts and pre- 
vented them from hunting, all of them who were born in 
summer rushed out of their houses armed with burning 
brands and torches which they hurled against the One who 
makes Winter ; and this was supposed to produce the desired 
effect of mitigating the cold. But those Indians who were 
born in winter abstained from taking part in the ceremony, 
for they believed that if they meddled with it the cold would 
increase instead of diminishing.^ We may surmise that in 
the corresponding European ceremonies, which have just been 
described, it was formerly deemed necessary that the actors, 
who played the parts of Winter and Summer, should have 
been born in the seasons which they personated. 
The burn- Every year on the Monday after the spring equinox 

Wnter at t)oys and girls attired in gay costume flock at a very early 
Zurich. hour into Zurich from the country. The girls, generally 
clad in white, are called Mareielis and carry two and two a 
small May tree or a wreath decked with flowers and ribbons. 
Thus they go in bands from house to house, jingling the 
bells which are attached to the wreath and singing a song, 
in which it is said that the Mareielis dance because the 
leaves and the grass are green and everything is bursting 
into blossom. In this way they are supposed to celebrate 
the triumph of Summer and to proclaim his coming. The 
boys are called Bdggen. They generally wear over their 
ordinary clothes a shirt decked with many-coloured ribbons, 
tall pointed paper caps on their heads, and masks before 
their faces. In this quaint costume they cart about through 
the streets efiigies made of straw and other combustible 
materials which are supposed to represent Winter. At 
evening these effigies are burned in various parts of the 
city.^ The ceremony was witnessed at Zurich on Mon- 
day, April 20th, 1903, by my friend Dr. J. Sutherland 

1 Relations desjhuites, 1636, p. 38 feste, Sitten und Gebrduche (Aurau, 
(Canadian reprint, Quebec, 1858). 1884), pp. 164-166 ; W. Mannhardt, 

^ H. Herzog, Schweherische Volks- Baumkulius, pp. 498 sg. 


Black, who has kindly furnished me with some notes on the 
subject. The effigy of Winter was a gigantic figure com- 
posed in great part, as it seemed, of cotton -wool. This 
was laid on a huge pyre, about thirty feet high, which had 
been erected on the Stadthausplatz close to the lake. In 
presence of a vast concourse of people fire was set to the 
pyre and all was soon in a blaze, while the town bells rang 
a joyous peal. As the figure gradually consumed in the 
flames, the mechanism enclosed in its interior produced a 
variety of grotesque effects, such as the gushing forth of 
bowels. At last nothing remained of the effigy but the iron 
backbone ; the crowd slowly dispersed, and the fire brigade 
set to work to quench the smouldering embers.^ In this 
ceremony the contest between Summer and Winter is rather 
implied than expressed, but the significance of the rite is 

§ 8. Death and Resurrection of Kostrubonko 

In Russia funeral ceremonies like those of " Burying the Funeral 
Carnival '' and " Carrying out Death " are celebrated under °^ ^onko 
the names, not of Death or the Carnival, but of certain mythic Kostroma, 
figures, Kostrubonko, Kostroma, Kupalo, Lada, and Yarilo. ^j'YMiio 
These Russian ceremonies are observed both in spring and in Russia. 
at midsummer. Thus "in Little Russia it used to be the 
custom at Eastertide to celebrate the funeral of a being 
called Kostrubonko, the deity of the spring. A circle was 
formed of singers who moved slowly around a girl who lay 
on the ground as if dead, and as they went they sang, — 

' Dead, dead is our Kostrubonko J 
Dead, dead is our dear one ! ' 

until the girl suddenly sprang up, on which the chorus joy- 
fully exclaimed, — 

' Come to life, come to life has our Kostrubonko ! 
Come to life, come to life has our dear one / ' " 2 

' Letter to me of Dr. J. S. Black, P. Schmiedel of Zurich, who speaks of 

dated Lauriston Cottage, Wimbledon the effigy as a representative of Winter. 

Common, 28th May, 1903. In a sub- It is not expressly so called by H. 

sequent letter (dated 9th June, 1903) Herzog and W. Mannhardt. See the 

Dr. Black enclosed some bibliographical preceding note. 

references to the custom which were ^ W. R. S. Ralston, Songs of the 

kindly furnished to him by Professor Russian People, p. 221. 


Funeral On the Evc of St. John (Midsummer Eve) a figure of Kupalo 
°^ •?°^" is made of straw and " is dressed in woman's clothes, with a 

trubonko, • r n j 

Kostroma, nccklace and a floral crown. Then a tree is felled, and, after 
Md^Yariio being decked with ribbons, is set up on some chosen spot, 
in Russia. Near this tree, to which they give the name of Marena 
[Winter or Death], the straw figure is placed, together with a 
table, on which stand spirits and viands. Afterwards a bon- 
fire is lit, and the young men and maidens jump over it in 
couples, carrying the figure with them. On the next day 
they strip the tree and the figure of their ornaments, and 
throw them both into a stream." ^ On St. Peter's Day, the 
twenty-ninth of June, or on the following Sunday, "the 
Funeral of Kostroma " or of Lada or of Yarilo is celebrated 
in Russia. In the Governments of Penza and Simbirsk the 
funeral used to be represented as follows. A bonfire was 
kindled on the twenty-eighth of June, and on the next day 
the maidens chose one of their number to play the part of 
Kostroma. Her companions saluted her with deep obei- 
sances, placed her on a board, and carried her to the bank of 
a stream. There they bathed her in the water, while the 
oldest girl made a basket of lime-tree bark and beat it like 
a drum. Then they returned to the village and ended the 
day with processions, games, and dances.^ In the Murom 
district Kostroma was represented by a straw figure dressed 
in woman's clothes and flowers. This was laid in a trough 
and carried with songs to the bank of a lake or river. Here 
the crowd divided into two sides, of which the one attacked 
and the other defended the figure. At last the assailants 
gained the day, stripped the figure of its dress and ornaments, 
tore it in pieces, trod the straw of which it was made under 
foot, and flung it into the stream ; while the defenders of the 
figure hid their faces in their hands and pretended to bewail 
the death of Kostroma.^ In the district of Kostroma the 
burial of Yarilo was celebrated on the twenty -ninth or 
thirtieth of June. The people chose an old man and gave 
him a small coffin containing a Priapus-like figure represent- 

' W. R. S. Ralston, Songs of the p. 414. 
Russian People, p. 241. 3 -^ Mannhardt, Baumkultus, pp. 

2 W. R. S. Ralston, op. cit. pp. 414 sq. ; W. R. S. Ralston, op. cit. p. 

243 sq. ; W, Mannhardt, Baavikultus, 244. 


ing Yarilo. This he carried out of the town, followed by 
women chanting dirges and expressing by their gestures 
grief and despair. In the open fields a grave was dug, and 
into it the figure was lowered amid weeping and wailing, 
after which games and dances were begun, " calling to mind 
the funeral games celebrated in old times by the pagan 
Slavonians.'"^ In Little Russia the figure of Yarilo was 
laid in a coffin and carried through the streets after sunset 
surrounded by drunken women, who kept repeating mourn- 
fully, " He is dead ! he is dead ! " The men lifted and 
shook the figure as if they were trying to recall the dead 
man to life. Then they said to the women, " Women, weep 
not. I know what is sweeter than honey." But the women 
continued to lament and chant, as they do at funerals. " Of 
what was he guilty ? He was so good. He will arise no 
more. O how shall we part from thee? What is life 
without thee ? Arise, if only for a brief hour. But he rises 
not, he rises not." At last the Yarilo was buried in a grave.^ 

§ g. Death and Revival of Vegetation 

These Russian customs are plainly of the same nature as The 
those which in Austria and Germany are known as " Carrying l^^j'^^'J^^^. 
out Death." Therefore if the interpretation here adopted ko, Yarilo, 
of the latter is right, the Russian Kostrubonko, Yarilo, ^°^^°^g 
and the rest must also have been originally embodiments of probably 
the spirit of vegetation, and their death must have been \.^sSs of 
regarded as a necessary preliminary to their revival. The vegetation 

, . 1 • 1 z^ i r ii dying and 

revival as a sequel to the death is enacted in the hrst ot the coming to 
ceremonies described, the death and resurrection of Kostru- "fe agai°- 
bonko. The reason why in some of these Russian ceremonies 
the death of the spirit of vegetation is celebrated at mid- 
summer may be that the decline of summer is dated from 
Midsummer Day, after which the days begin to shorten, and 
the sun sets out on his downward journey — 

" To the darksome hollows 
Where the frosts of winter lie." 

1 W. R. S. Ralston, op. cit. p. 245; 2 w. Mannhardt, I.e. ; W. R. S. 

W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 416. Ralston, I.e. 




In these 
grief and 
love and 
appear to 
be curiously 

of Death 
without an 


Such a turning-point of the year, when vegetation might be 
thought to share the incipient though still almost impercep- 
tible decay of summer, might very well be chosen by 
primitive man as a fit moment for resorting to those magic 
rites by which he hopes to stay the decline, or at least to 
ensure the revival, of plant life. 

But while the death of vegetation appears to have been 
represented in all, and its revival in some, of these spring 
and midsummer ceremonies, there are features in some of 
them which can hardly be explained on this hypothesis 
alone. The solemn funeral, the lamentations^ and the 
mourning attire, which often characterise these rites, are 
indeed appropriate at the death of the beneficent spirit of 
vegetation. But what shall we say of the glee with which 
the effigy is often carried out, of the sticks and stones with 
which it is assailed, and the taunts and curses which are 
hurled at it ? What shall we say of the dread of the effigy 
evinced by the haste with which the bearers scamper home 
as soon as they have thrown it away, and by the belief that 
some one must soon die in any house into which it has 
looked ? This dread might perhaps be explained by a belief 
that there is a certain infectiousness in the dead spirit of 
vegetation which renders its approach dangerous. But this 
explanation, besides being rather strained, does not cover 
the rejoicings which often attend the carrying out of Death. 
We must therefore recognise two distinct and seemingly 
opposite features in these ceremonies : on the one hand, 
sorrow for the death, and affection and respect for the dead; 
on the other hand, fear and hatred of the dead, and rejoicings 
at his death. How the former of these features is to be 
explained I have attempted to shew : how the latter came 
to be so closely associated with the former is a question 
which I shall try to answer in the sequel. 

Before we quit these European customs to go farther 
afield, it will be well to notice that occasionally the expulsion 
of Death or of a mythic being is conducted without any 
visible representative of the personage expelled. Thus at 
Konigshain, near Gorlitz in Silesia, all the villagers, young 
and old, used to go out with straw torches to the top of a 
neighbouring hill, called Todtenstein (Death-stone), where 


they lit their torches, and so returned home singing, " We 
have driven out Death, we are bringing back Summer." ^ 
In Albania young people light torches of resinous wood on 
Easter Eve, and march in procession through the village 
brandishing them. At last they throw the torches into the 
river, saying, " Ha, Kore, we fling you into the river, like 
these torches, that you may return no more." Some say 
that the intention of the ceremony is to drive out winter ; 
but Kore is conceived as a malignant being who devours 

§ 10. Analogous Rites in India 

In the Kanagra district of India there is a custom images of 
observed by young girls in spring which closely resembles l^rvat"'^ 
some of the European spring ceremonies just described. It married, 
is called the Rait Ka meld, or fair of Rali, the Rali being a ^^°^'^^' 
small painted earthen image of Siva or P^rvatJ. The custom mourned 
is in vogue all over the Kanagra district, and its celebration, 1°^]^. 
which is entirely confined to young girls, lasts through most 
of Chet (March-April) up to the Sankrint of Baisikh (April). 
On a morning in March all the young girls of the village 
take small baskets of dub grass and flowers to an appointed 
place, where they throw them in a heap. Round this 
heap they stand in a circle and sing. This goes on every 
day for ten days, till the heap of grass and flowers has 
reached a fair height. Then they cut in the jungle two 
branches, each with three prongs at one end, and place them, 
prongs downwards, over the heap of flowers, so as to make 
two tripods or pyramids. On the single uppermost points 
of these branches they get an image-maker to construct two 
clay images, one tb represent Siva, and the other Pirvatt. 
The girls then divide themselves into two parties, one for 
Siva and one for P^rvati, and marry the images in the usual 
way, leaving out no part of the ceremony. After the mar- 
riage they have a feast, the cost of which is defrayed by 
contributions solicited from their parents. Then at the next 
Sankrant (Baisakh) they all go together to the river-side, 
throw the images into a deep pool, and weep over the place, 

' J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie,'^ ^ J. G. von Hahn, Albanesische 

ii. 644. Studien (Jena, 1854), i. i6o. 



In this 
Siva and 
seem to be 
the equiva- 
lents of 
the King 
and Queen 
of May. 

as though they were performing funeral obsequies. The 
boys of the neighbourhood often tease them by diving after 
the images, bringing them up, and waving them about while 
the girls are crying over them. The object of the fair is 
said to be to secure a good husband.^ 

That in this Indian ceremony the deities Siva and 
Parvati are conceived as spirits of vegetation seems to be 
proved by the placing of their images on branches over a 
heap of grass and flowers. Here, as often in European folk- 
custom, the divinities of vegetation are represented in 
duplicate, by plants and by puppets. The marriage of 
these Indian deities in spring corresponds to the European 
ceremonies in which the marriage of the vernal spirits of 
vegetation is represented by the King and Queen of May, 
the May Bride, Bridegroom of the May, and so forth.^ The 
throwing of the images into the water, and the mourning for 
them, are the equivalents of the European customs of throw- 
ing the dead spirit of vegetation under the name of Death, 
Yarilo, Kostroma, and the rest, into the water and lamenting 
over it. Again, in India, as often in Europe, the rite is 
performed exclusively by females. The notion that the 
ceremony helps to procure husbands for the girls can be 
explained by the quickening and fertilising influence which 
the spirit of vegetation is believed to exert upon the life of 
man as well as of plants.^ 

The fore- 

rites in- 
tended to 
ensure the 
revival of 
nature in 
spring by 
means of 

§11. The Magic Spring 

The general explanation which we have been led to 
adopt of these and many similar ceremonies is that they are, 
or were in their origin, magical rites intended to ensure the 
revival of nature in spring. The means by which they were 
supposed to effect this end were imitation and sympathy. 
Led astray by his ignorance of the true causes of things, 
primitive man believed that in order to pi'oduce the great 
phenomena of nature on which his life depended he had 
only to imitate them, and that immediately by a secret 

' R. C. Temple, in Indian Anti- Hon of Kings, ii. 84 sqq. 
quary, xi. (1882) pp. 297 sq. 3 See The Magic Art and the Evolu- 

^ See The Magic Art and the Evolu- tion of Kings, ii. 45 sqq. 


sympathy or mystic influence the little drama which he 
acted in forest glade or mountain dell, on desert plain or 
wind-swept shore, would be taken up and repeated by 
mightier actors on a vaster stage. He fancied that by 
masquerading in leaves and flowers he helped the bare 
earth to clothe herself with verdure, and that by playing the 
death and burial of winter he drove that gloomy season 
away, and made smooth the path for the footsteps of return- 
ing spring. If we find it hard to throw ourselves even in 
fancy into a mental condition in which such things seem 
possible, we can more easily picture to ourselves the anxiety 
which the savage, when he first began to lift his thoughts 
above the satisfaction of his merely animal wants, and to 
meditate on the causes of things, may have felt as to the 
continued operation of what we now call the laws of 
nature. To us, familiar as we are with the conception of 
the uniformity and regularity with which the great cosmic 
phenomena succeed each other, there seems little ground for 
apprehension that the causes which produce these effects 
will cease to operate, at least within the near future. But 
this confidence in the stability of nature is bred only by the 
experience which comes of wide observation and long 
tradition ; and the savage, with his narrow sphere of obser- 
vation and his short-lived tradition, lacks the very elements 
of that experience which alone could set his mind at rest in 
face of the ever-changing and often menacing aspects of 
nature. No wonder, therefore, that he is thrown into a 
panic by an eclipse, and thinks that the sun or the moon 
would surely perish, if he did not raise a clamour and shoot 
his puny shafts into the air to defend the luminaries from 
the monster who threatens to devour them. No wonder he 
is terrified when in the darkness of night a streak of sky is 
suddenly illumined by the flash of a meteor, or the whole 
expanse of the celestial arch glows with the fitful light of 
the Northern Streamers.^ Even phenomena which recur at 

1 When the Kurnai of Victoria saw do not let it burn us up ! " See A. W. 

the Aurora Australis, which corresponds Howitt, " On some Australian Beliefs," 

to the Northern Streamers of Europe, Journal of the Anthropological Institute, 

they exchanged wives for the day and xiii. (1884) p. 189 ; id.. Native Tribes 

swung the severed hand of a dead man of South-East Australia, pp. 276 sq., 

towards it, shouting, " Send it away ! 430. 


fixed and uniform intervals may be viewed by him with 
apprehension, before he has come to recognise the orderli- 
ness of their recurrence. The speed or slowness of his 
recognition of such periodic or cyclic changes in nature will 
depend largely on the length of the particular cycle. The 
cycle, for example, of day and night is everywhere, except 
in the polar regions, so short and hence so frequent that 
men probably soon ceased to discompose themselves seriously 
as to the chance of its failing to recur, though the ancient 
Egyptians, as we have seen, daily wrought enchantments to 
bring back to the east in the morning the fiery orb which 
Feelings had sunk at evening in the crimson west. But it was far 
theprimil Otherwise with the annual cycle of the seasons. To any 
tive savage jjian a year is a considerable period, seeing that the number 
regarded of our ycars is but few at the best. To the primitive 
the changes g^yagg^ with his short memory and imperfect means of 
seasons, marking the flight of time, a year may well have been so 
long that he failed to recognise it as a cycle at all, and 
watched the changing aspects of earth and heaven with a 
perpetual wonder, alternately delighted and alarmed, elated 
and cast down, according as the vicissitudes of light and heat, 
of plant and animal life, ministered to his comfort or 
threatened his existence. In autumn when the withered 
leaves were whirled about the forest by the nipping blast, 
and he looked up at the bare boughs, could he feel sure 
that they would ever be green again ? As day by day the 
sun sank lower and lower in the sky, could he be certain 
that the luminary would ever retrace his heavenly road ? 
Even the waning moon, whose pale sickle rose thinner and 
thinner every night over the rim of the eastern horizon, may 
have excited in his mind a fear lest, when it had wholly 
vanished, there should be moons no more. 
In modern These and a thousand such misgivings may have thronged 
oid^magi- ^ the fancy and troubled the peace of the man who first began 
cai rites for to reflect ou the mysteries of the world he lived in, and to take 

tli6 rtiviv3.1 

of nature thought for a more distant future than the morrow. It was 
in spring natural, therefore, that with such thoughts and fears he should 

have de- 

generated havc doue all that in him lay to bring back the faded blossom 
into mere ^-q ^he bough, to swing the low sun of winter up to his old 

pageants ^ o ^ o r 

and place in the summer sky, and to restore its orbed fulness to 



the silver lamp of the waning moon. We may smile at his 
vain endeavours if we please, but it was only by making 
a long series of experiments, of which some were almost 
inevitably doomed to failure, that man learned from ex- 
perience the futility of some of his attempted methods and 
the fruitfulness of others. After all, magical ceremonies are 
nothing but experiments which have failed and which con- 
tinue to be repeated merely because, for reasons which have 
already been indicated,^ the operator is unaware of their 
failure. With the advance of knowledge these ceremonies 
either cease to be performed altogether or are kept up from 
force of habit long after the intention with which they were 
instituted has been forgotten. Thus fallen from their high 
estate, no longer regarded as solemn rites on the punctual 
performance of which the welfare and even the life of the 
community depend, they sink gradually to the level of 
simple pageants, mummeries, and pastimes, till in the final 
stage of degeneration they are wholly abandoned by older 
people, and, from having once been the most serious occupa- 
tion of the sage, become at last the idle sport of children. 
It is in this final stage of decay that most of the old magical 
rites of our European forefathers linger on at the present 
day, and even from this their last retreat they are fast being 
swept away by the rising tide of those multitudinous forces, 
moral, intellectual, and social, which are bearing mankind 
onward to a new and unknown goal. We may feel some 
natural regret at the disappearance of quaint customs and 
picturesque ceremonies, which have preserved to an age 
often deemed dull and prosaic something of the flavour and 
freshness of the olden time, some breath of the springtime of 
the world ; yet our regret will be lessened when we remember 
that these pretty pageants, these now innocent diversions, 
had their origin in ignorance and superstition ; that if they 
are a record of human endeavour, they are also a monument 
of fruitless ingenuity, of wasted labour, and of blighted 
hopes ; and that for all their gay trappings — their flowers, 
their ribbons, and their music— they partake far more of 
tragedy than of farce. 

The interpretation which, following in the footsteps of 

1 See The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings, i. 242 sq. 


Parallel to W. Mannhardt, I have attempted to give of these ceremonies 
custo^s"rf '^^^ '^^^^ ""'^ ^ ^'^^'^ confirmed by the discovery, made since 
Europe in this book was first written, that the natives of Central Aus- 
rites™ofthe' ^raHa regularly practise magical ceremonies for the purpose 
Central of awakening the dormant energies of nature at the approach 
aborigines, of what may be called the Australian spring. Nowhere 
apparently are the alternations of the seasons more sudden 
and the contrasts between them more striking than in the 
deserts of Central Australia, where at the end of a long 
period of drought the sandy and stony wilderness, over which 
the silence and desolation of death appear to brood, is 
suddenly, after a few days of torrential rain, transformed into 
a landscape smiling with verdure and peopled with teeming 
multitudes of insects and lizards, of frogs and birds. The 
marvellous change which passes over the face of nature at 
such times has been compared even by European observers 
to the effect of magic ; ^ no wonder, then, that the savage 
should regard it as such in very deed. Now it is just when 
there is promise of the approach of a good season that the 
natives of Central Australia are wont especially to perform 
those magical ceremonies of which the avowed intention is to 
multiply the plants and animals they use as food.^ These 
ceremonies, therefore, present a close analogy to the spring 
customs of our European peasantry not only in the time 
of their celebration, but also in their aim ; for we can 
hardly doubt that in instituting rites designed to assist 
the revival of plant life in spring our primitive forefathers 
were moved, not by any sentimental wish to smell at 
early violets, or pluck the rathe primrose, or watch yellow 
daffodils dancing in the breeze, but by the very practical 
consideration, certainly not formulated in abstract terms, 
that the life of man is inextricably bound up with that 
of plants, and that if they were to perish he could not 
survive. And as the faith of the Australian savage in the 
efficacy of his magic rites is confirmed by observing that 
their performance is invariably followed, sooner or later, by 
that increase of vegetable and animal life which it is their 

^ Spencer and Gillen, A'a/zVe Tribes 170. For a description of some of 

of Central Atistralia, pp. ^ sq., 170. these ceremonies see The Magic Art 

^ Spencer and Gillen, op. cit. p. and the Evolution of Kings, i. 85 sqq. 


object to produce, so, we may suppose, it was with European 
savages in the olden time. The sight of the fresh green 
in brake and thicket, of vernal flowers blowing on mossy 
banks, of swallows arriving from the south, and of the sun 
mounting daily higher in the sky, would be welcomed by 
them as so many visible signs that their enchantments 
were indeed taking effect, and would inspire them with a 
cheerful confidence that all was well with a world which 
they could thus mould to suit their wishes. Only in autumn 
days, as summer slowly faded, would their confidence 
again be dashed by doubts and misgivings at symptoms 
of decay, which told how vain were all their efforts to 
stave off for ever the approach of winter and of death. 



Lord Avebury kindly allows me to print the letter of Mr. M. W. Letter of 
Lampson, referred to above (p. 146, notei). It runs as follows : — ^'^- ^- W. 

Foreign Office, August 7, 1903. 

Dear Lord Avebury — As the result of enquiries I hear from a 
Mr. Eames, a lawyer who practised for some years at Shanghai and 
has considerable knowledge of Chinese matters, that for a small sum 
a substitute can be found for execution. This is recognised by the 
Chinese authorities, with certain exceptions, as for instance parricide. 
It is even asserted that the local Taotai gains pecuniarily by this 
arrangement, as he is as a rule not above obtaining a substitute for the 
condemned man for a less sum than was paid him by the latter. 

It is, I believe, part of the doctrine of Confucius that it is one of 
the highest virtues to increase the family prosperity at the expense 
of personal suffering. According to Eames, the Chinamen [sic\ looks 
upon execution in another man's stead in this light, and consequently 
there is quite a competition for such a " substitution." 

Should you wish to get more definite information, the address is : 
W. Eames, Esq., *=/„ Norman Craig, Inner Temple, E.C. 

The only man in this department who has actually been out to 

China is at present away. But on his return I will ask him about it. 

Yours sincerely, Miles W. Lampson. 

On this subject Lord Avebury had stated : "It is said that in Lord 
China, if a rich man is condemned to death, he can sometimes Avebury's 
purchase a willing substitute at a very small expense." ^ In regard ^'^'^■"^°'- 
to his authority for this statement Lord Avebury wrote to me 
(August 10, 1903): "I believe my previous information came from 
Sir T. Wade, but I liave been unable to lay my hand on his letter, 
and do not therefore like to state it as a fact." Sir Thomas Wade 

1 Lord Avebury, Origin of Civilisation,^ pp. 378 sq.; compare id.. Pre- 
historic Times,^ p. 561- 

PT. Ill 273 T 


was English Ambassador at Peking, and afterwards Professor of 

Chinese at Cambridge. 
Opinions On the Same subject Mr. Valentine Chirol, editor of the foreign 

authOTities department of The Times, wrote to me as follows : — 

Queen Anne's Mansions, Westminster, S.W., 
August 2isi, 1905. 

Dear Sir — I shall be very glad to do what I can to obtain for you 
the information you require. It was a surprise to me to hear that the 
accuracy of the statement was called in question. It is certainly a 
matter of common report in China that the practice exists. The 
difficulty, I conceive, will be to obtain evidence enabling one to quote 
concrete cases. My own impression is that the practice is quite justifi- 
able according to Chinese ethics when life is given up from motives of 
filial piety, that is to say in order to relieve the wants of indigent 
parents, or to defray the costs of ancestral rights [jzV:]. Your general 
thesis that life is less valued and more readily sacrificed by some races 
than by modern Europeans seems to be beyond dispute. Surely the 
Japanese practice of sepuku, or harikari, as it is vulgarly called, is a 
case in point. Life is risked, as in duelling, by Europeans, for the 
mere point of honour, but it is never deliberately laid down in satis- 
faction of the exigencies of the social code. I will send you whatever 
information I can obtain when it reaches me, but that will not of course 
be for some months. — Yours truly, Valentine Chirol. 

P.S. — A friend of mine who has just been here entirely confirms 
my own belief as to the accuracy of your statement, and tells me he 
has himself seen several Imperial Decrees in the Peking Gazette, calling 
provincial authorities to order for having allowed specific cases of sub- 
stitution to occur, and ordering the death penalty to be carried out in 
a more severe form on the original culprits as an extra punishment for 
obtaining substitutes. He has promised to look up some of these 
Impe. Decrees on his return to China, and send me translations. I 
am satisfied personally that his statement is conclusive. V. C. 

On the same subject I have received the following letter from 
Mr. J. O. P. Bland, for fourteen years correspondent of The Times 
in China : — 

The Clock House, Shepperton, 
March 22nd, 1911. 

Dear Professor Frazer — My friend Mr. Valentine Chirol, writing 
the other day from Crete on his way East, asked me to communicate 
with you on the subject of your letter of the 3rd ulto., namely, the 
custom, alleged to exist in China, of procuring substitutes for persons 
condemned to death, the substitutes' families or relatives receiving 
compensation in cash. 

To speak of this as a custom is to exaggerate the frequency of a 
class of incident which has undoubtedly been recorded in China and 


of which there has been mention in Imperial Decrees. I am sorry to 
say that I have not my file of the Peking Gazette here, for immediate 
reference, but I am writing to my friend Mr. Backhouse in Peking, and 
have no doubt but that he will be able to give chapter and verse of 
instances thus recorded. I had expected to find cases of the kind 
recorded in Mr. Werner's recently-published " Descriptive Sociology " 
of the Chinese (Spencerian publications), but have not been able to do 
so in the absence of an index to that voluminous work. More than one 
of the authors whom he quotes have certainly referred to cases of 
substitution for death-sentence prisoners. Parker, for instance (" China 
Past and Present," page 378), asserts that substitutes were to be had 
in Canton at the reasonable price of fifty taels (say £10). Dr. Matignon 
(in "Superstition, Crime et Misfere en Chine," page 113) says that filial 
piety is a frequent motive. The negative opinion of Professors Giles 
and de Groot is entitled to consideration, but cannot be regarded as any 
more conclusive than the views expressed by Professor Giles on the 
question of infanticide which are outweighed by a mass of direct proof 
of eye-witnesses. 

In a country where men submit voluntarily to mutilation and grave 
risk of death for a comparatively small gain to themselves and their 
relatives, where women commit suicide in hundreds to escape capture 
by invaders or strangers, where men and women alike habitually sacrifice 
their life for the most trivial motives of revenge or distress, it need not 
greatly surprise us that some should be found, especially among the 
wretchedly poor class, willing to give up their life in order to relieve 
their famiHes of want or otherwise to " acquire merit." 

The most important thing, I think, in expressing any opinion about 
the Chinese, is to remember the great extent and heterogeneous elements 
of the country, and to abstain from any sweeping generalisations based 
on isolated acts or events.- — Yours very truly, J. O. P. Bland. 

As the practice in question involves a grave miscarriage of 
justice, the discovery of which might entail serious consequences on 
the magistrate who connived at it, we need not wonder that it is 
generally hushed up, and that no instances of it should come to the 
ears of many Europeans resident in China. My friend Professor 
H. A. Giles of Cambridge in conversation expressed himself quite in- 
credulous on the subject, and Professor J. J. M. de Groot of Leyden 
wrote to me (January 31, 1902) to the same effect. The Rev. Dr. 
W. T. A. Barber, Headmaster of the Leys School, Cambridge, and 
formerly a missionary in China, wrote to me (January 30, 1902): 
" As to the possibility that a man condemned to death may secure a 
substitute on payment of a moderate sum of money, we used to 
hear that this was the case ; but I have no proof that would justify 
you in using the fact." Another experienced missionary, the Rev. 
W. A. Cornaby, wrote to Dr. Barber: "I have heard of no such 
custom in capital crimes. The man in whose house a fire starts 
may, and often does, pay another to receive the blows and three 


days in a cangue. But unless where 'foreign riots' were the 
case, and a previously condemned criminal handy, I should hardly 
think it possible. Every precaution is taken that no one is be- 
headed but the man who cannot possibly be let off. The expense 
on the county mandarin is over ;^ioo in 'stationery expenses' 
with higher courts." On this I would observe that if every execution 
costs the. local mandarin so dear, he must be under a strong tempta- 
tion to get the expenses out of the prisoner whenever he can do so 
without being detected. 
Substitutes With regard to the custom, mentioned by Mr. Cornaby, of 
for cor- procuring substitutes for corporal punishment, we are told that in 
punish- China there are men who earn a livelihood by being thrashed 
ment in instead of the real culprits. But they bribe the executioner to lay 
on lightly; otherwise their constitution could not long resist the 
tear and wear of so exhausting a profession.^ Thus the theory and 
practice of vicarious suffering are well understood in China. 

1 De Guignes, Voyages h Peking, Manille et Pile de France, iii. (Paris, 
1808) pp. 114 sq. 





The custom of swinging has been practised as a religious or rather The 
magical rite in various parts of the world, but it does not seem custom of 
possible to explain all the instances of it in the same way. People ^™fis"| 
appear to have resorted to the practice from different motives and for various 
with different ideas of the benefit to be derived from it. In the reasons. 
text we have seen that the Letts, and perhaps the Siamese, swing to 
make the crops grow tall.i The same may be the intention of Swinging 
the ceremony whenever it is specially observed at harvest festivals. ^' harvest. 
Among the Buginese and Macassars of Celebes, for example, it used 
to be the custom for young girls to swing one after the other on 
these occasions.^ At the great Dassera festival of Nepaul, which 
immediately precedes the cutting of the rice, swings and kites come 
into fashion among the young people of both sexes. The swings 
are sometimes hung from boughs of trees, but generally from a 
cross-beam supported on a framework of tall bamboos.^ Among 
the Dyaks of Sarawak a feast is held at the end of harvest, when the 
soul of the rice is secured to prevent the crops from rotting away. 
On this occasion a number of old women rock to and fro on a rude 
swing suspended from the rafters.* A traveller in Sarawak has 
described how he saw many tall swings erected and Dyaks swinging 
to and fro on them, sometimes ten or twelve men together on 
one swing, while they chanted in monotonous, dirge-like tones an 
invocation to the spirits that they would be pleased to grant a 
plentiful harvest of sago and fruit and a good fishing season.* 

In the East Indian island of Bengkali elaborate and costly cere- 

1 Above, pp. 156 sq. Derde Reeks, Tvifeede Deal (Atnster- 

2 'B.'F.M.eMheSjEiniffeEigentkum- dam, 1885), pp. 16^ sq. 

Hchkeiten in den Festen und Gewohn- 3 jj ^_ Oldfield, Sketches from 

heiten der Makassaren und Bugmesen j^^.^^ (London, 1880), ii. 351. 
(Leyden, 1884), p. i; ^■«?., "Over de \ ^'^ S^ Tohn Life in the 

ada's of gewoonten der Makassaren en ^f^ff, „ ^^ "'2 • -{„ 

„ . ^ „ Tr 1 n/T j.j.^i Forests of the Far East/ I. IQ± sg. 

Boegineezen," Verslagen en Mededeel- ■' > yt \i 

ingen der koninklijke Akademie van ^ Ch. Brooke, Ten Years inSarawak, 

IVetenscha/>/ien, AideeUnghetteikunde, ii. 226 sq. 





Swinging monies are performed to ensure a good catch of fish. Among the 
for fish jggj ^jj hereditary priestess, who bears the royal title of Djindjang 
game, jg^^j^j^^ works herself up by means of the fumes of incense and so 
forth into that state of mental disorder which with many people passes 
for a symptom of divine inspiration. In this pious frame of mind 
she is led by her four handmaids to a swing all covered with yellow 
and hung with golden bells, on which she takes her seat amid the 
jingle of the bells. As she rocks gently to and fro in the swing, she 
speaks in an unknown tongue to each of the sixteen spirits who have 
to do with the fishing.^ In order to procure a plentiful supply of 
game the Tinneh Indians of North- West America perform a magical 
ceremony which they call "the young man bounding or tied." 
They pinion a man tightly, and having hung him by the head and 
heels from the roof of the hut, rock him backwards and forwards.^ 

Thus we see that people swing in order to procure a plentiful 
supply of fish and game as well as good crops. In such cases the 
notion seems to be that the ceremony promotes fertility, whether in 
the vegetable or the animal kingdom ; though why it should be 
Indian supposed to do SO, I confess myself unable to explain. There seem 
custom of to be some reasons for thinking that the Indian rite of swinging on 
on'hoolfs hooks run through the flesh of the performer is also resorted to, at 
least in some cases, from a belief in its fertilising virtue. Thus 
Hamilton tells us that at Karwar, on the west coast of India, a feast 
is held at the end of May or beginning of June in honour of the 
infernal gods, " with a divination or conjuration to know the fate of 
the ensuing crop of corn." Men were hung from a pole by means 
of tenter-hooks inserted in the flesh of their backs ; and the pole 
with the men dangling from it was then dragged for more than a 
mile over ploughed ground from one sacred grove to another, 
preceded by a young girl who carried a pot of fire on her head. 
When the second grove was reached, the men were let down and 
taken off the hooks, and the girl fell into the usual prophetic frenzy, 
after which she unfolded to the priests the revelation with which she 
had just been favoured by the terrestrial gods. In each of the 
groves a shapeless black stone, daubed with red lead to stand for a 
mouth, eyes, and ears, appears to have represented the indwelling 
divinity.^ Sometimes this custom of swinging on hooks, which is 
known among the Hindoos as Churuk Puja, seems to be intended 

1 J. S. G. Gramberg, "De Troeboek- 
visscherij," Tijdschrift voor Indische 
Taal- iMnd- en Volkenkunde, xxiv. 
(1887) pp. 314 J?. 

^ E. Petitot, Monographic des Dini- 
Dindjii (Paris, 1876), p. 38. The 
same ceremony is performed, oddly 
enough, to procure the death of an 

3 Hamilton's ' ' Account of the East 
Indies," in Pinkerton's Voyages and 
Travels, viii. 360 sq. In general 
we are merely told that these Indian 
devotees swing on hooks in fulfilment 
of a vow or to obtain some favour of a 
deity. See Duarte Barbosa, Descrip- 
tion of the Coasts of East Africa a7id 
Malabar in the beginning of the Six- 


to propitiate demons. Some Santals asked Mr. V. Ball to be allowed 
to perform it because their women and children were dying of sick- 
ness, and their cattle were being killed by wild beasts ; they believed 
that these misfortunes befell them because the evil spirits had not 
been appeased.^ These same Santals celebrate a swinging festival 
of a less barbarous sort about the month of February. Eight men 
sit in chairs and rotate round posts in a sort of revolving swing, like 
the merry-go-rounds which are so dear to children at English fairs.^ 
At the Nauroz and Eed festivals in Dardistan the women swing on 
ropes suspended from trees.* During the rainy season in Behar Swinging 
young women swing in their houses, while they sing songs appro- '" ^^^ "^^'"5' 
piiate to the season. The period during which they indulge in this 
pastime, if a mere pastime it be, is strictly limited ; it begins with a 
festival which usually falls on the twenty-fifth of the month Jeyt and 
ends with another festival which commonly takes place on the twenty- 
fifth of the month Asin. No one would think of swinging at any 
other time of the year.* It is possible that this last custom may 
be nothing more than a pastime meant to while away some of the 
tedious hours of the inclement season ; but its limitation to a certain 
clearly-defined portion of the year seems rather to point to a religious 
or magical origin. Possibly the intention may once have been to 
drive away the rain. We shall see immediately that swinging is some- 
times resorted to for the purpose of expelling the powers of evil. 
About the middle of March the Hindoos observe a swinging festival Swinging 
of a different sort in honour of the god Krishna, whose image is JJJ ^^°^^ 
placed in the seat or cradle of a swing and then, just when the dawn 
is breaking, rocked gently to and fro several times. The same cere- 
mony is repeated at noon and at sunset.^ In the Rigveda the sun 
is called, by a natural metaphor, " the golden swing in the sky," and 
the expression helps us to understand a ceremony of Vedic India. 
A priest sat in a swing and touched with the span of his right hand at 
once the seat of the swing and the ground. In doing so he said, " The 

teenth Century, U3.r\s[aX.eAhyt\\e Hon. Races of Dardistan (Lahore, 1878), 

H. E. J. Stanley (Hakluyt Society, p. 12. 

London, 1866), pp. 95 -ff •. 5 Caspar 4 garat Chandra Mitra, "Notes on 

Balbi's " Voyage to Pegu," in Pinker- ^^^ g^j^^^j pastimes," Journal of the 

ton's Voyages and Travels, ix. 398; Anthropological Society of Bombay, m. 

Sonnerat, Voyage aux Indes orientates qe. sg 
et h la Chine, i. 244 ; S. Mateer, The 

Land of Charity, p. 220; W. W. ' H. H. Wilson, "The Religious 

Hunter, Annals of Rural Bengal,^ p. Festivals of the Hindus," Journal of 

463; North Indian Notes and Queries, the Royal Asiatic Society, ix. (1848) 

i P 76 § 511. P- 9^' Compare E. T. Dalton, De- 

^V.' 'Bail, Jungle Life in India scriptive Ethnology of Bengal,^. T,ii,; 

(London, 1880), p. 232. Monier Williams, Religious Life and 

2 W. W. Hunter, Annals of Rural Thotight in India, -p. 137; W. Crooke, 
Bengal^ (London, 1872), p. 463- "The Legends of Krishna," Folk-lore, 

3 G. W. Leitner, The Languages and xi. (1900) pp. 21 sqq. 





custom of 
at the 

for inspira- 

as a 
cure for 

great lord has united himself with the great lady, the god has united 
himself with the goddess." Perhaps he meant to indicate in a graphic 
way that the sun had reached that lowest point of its course where* 
it was nearest to the earth.^ In this connexion it is of interest tQ 
note that in the Esthonian celebration of St. John's Day or th^ 
summer solstice swings play, along with bonfires, the most prominent 
part. Girls sit and swing the whole night through, singing old songs 
to explain why they do so. For legend tells of an Esthonian prinqe 
who wooed and won an Islandic princess. But a wicked enchanter 
spirited away the lover to a desert island, where he languished in 
captivity, till his lady-love contrived to break the magic spell that 
bound him. Together they sailed home to Esthonia, which thfiy 
reached on St. John's Day, and burnt their ship, resolved to stray no 
longer in far foreign lands. The swings in which the Esthonian 
maidens still rock themselves on St. John's Day are said to recill 
the ship in which the lovers tossed upon the stormy sea, and the 
bonfires commemorate the burning of it. When the fires have died 
out, the swings are laid aside and never used again either in thg 
village or at the solitary alehouse until spring comes round once 
more.2 Here it is natural to connect both swings and bonfires with 
the apparent course of the sun, who reaches the highest and turning 
point of his orbit on St. John's Day. Bonfires and swings perhaps 
were originally charms intended to kindle and speed afresh on its 
heavenly road " the golden swing in the sky." Among the Letts of 
South Livonia and Curland the summer solstice is the occasion of a 
great festival of flowers, at which the people sing songs with the 
constant refrain of lihgo, lihgo. It has been proposed to derive the 
word lihgo from the Lettish verb ligot, " to swing," with reference to 
the sun swinging in the sky at this turning-point of his course.^ 

At Tengaroeng, in Eastern Borneo, the priests and priestesses 
receive the inspiration of the spirits seated in swings and rocking 
themselves to and fro. Thus suspended in the air they appear to 
be in a peculiarly favourable position for catching the divine afflatus. 
One end of the plank which forms the seat of the priest's swing is 
carved in the rude likeness of a crocodile's head ; the swing of the 
priestess is similarly ornamented with a serpent's head.* 

Again, swings are used for the cure of sickness, but it is the 
doctor who rocks himself in them, not the patient. In North 
Borneo the Dyak medicine man will sometimes erect a swing in 

^ The Hymns of the Rigveda, vii. 
87. 5 (vol. ill. p. 108 of R. T. H. 
Griffith's translation, Benares, 1 891); 
H. Oldenberg, Die Religion des Veda, 
pp. 444 sq. 

^ J. G. Kohl, Die deutsch-russischen 
Ostseeprovinzen (Dresden and Leipsic, 
1841), ii. 268 sgq. 

^ L. V. Schroeder, " Lihgo (Refrain 
der lettischen Sonnwendlieder)," Mit- 
teilungen der Anthropologischen Gesell- 
schaft in Wien, xxxii. (1902) pp. i-ii. 

* S. W. Tromp, " Uit de Salasila van 
Koetei," Bijdragen tot de Taal- Land- 
en Volkenkunde van Nederlandsch- Indie, 
xxxvii. (1888) pp. 87-89. 


front of the sick man's house and sway backwards and forwards on 
it for the purpose of kicking away the disease, frightening away evil 
spirits, and catching the stray soul of the sufferer.^ Clearly in his 
passage through the air the physician is likely to collide with 
the disease and the evil spirits, both of which are sure to be 
loitering about in the neighbourhood of the patient, and the rude 
shock thus given to the malady and the demons may reasonably 
be expected to push or hustle them away. At Tengaroeng, in 
Eastern Borneo, a traveller witnessed a ceremony for the expul- 
sion of an evil spirit in which swinging played a part. After four 
men in blue shirts bespangled with stars, and wearing coronets 
of red cloth decorated with beads and bells, had sought diligently 
for the devil, grabbling about on the floor and grunting withal, three 
hideous hags dressed in faded red petticoats were brought in with 
great pomp, carried on the shoulders of Malays, and took their seats, 
amid solemn silence, on the cradle of a swing, the ends of which 
were carved to represent the head and tail of a crocodile. Not 
a sound escaped from the crowd of spectators during this awe- 
inspiring ceremony ; they regarded the business as most serious. 
The venerable dames then rocked to and fro on the swing, fanning 
themselves languidly with Chinese paper fans. At a later stage of 
the performance they and three girls discharged burning arrows at 
a sort of altar of banana leaves, maize, and grass. This completed 
the discomfiture of the devil.^ 

The Athenians in antiquity celebrated an annual festival of Athenian 
swinging. Boards were hung from trees by ropes, and people f^s'ivai of 
sitting on them swung to and fro, while they sang songs of a loose ^^ "Smg- 
or voluptuous character. The swinging went on both in public and 
private. Various explanations were given of the custom ; the most 
generally received was as follows. When Bacchus came among 
men to make known to them the pleasures of wine, he lodged with 
a certain Icarus or Icarius, to whom he revealed the precious secret 
and bade him go forth and carry the glad tidings to all the world. 
So Icarus loaded a waggon with wine -skins, and set out on his 
travels, the dog Maera running beside him. He came to Attica, 
and there fell in with shepherds tending their sheep, to whom he 
gave of the wine. They drank greedily, but when some of them 
fell down dead drunk, their companions thought the stranger had 
poisoned them with intent to steal the sheep ; so they knocked him 
on the head. The faithful dog ran home and guided his master's 
daughter Erigone to the body. At sight of it she was smitten with 

1 J. Perham, " Manangism in 1911), pp. 169, 170, 171; H. Ling 

Borneo,'' Journal of the Straits Roth, T'he Natives of Sarawak and 

Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, British North Borneo, i. 279. 

No. 19 (Singapore, 1887), pp. 97 sq.; ^ C. Bock, The Head-hunters of 

E. H. Gomes, Seventeen Years among Borneo (London, 1881), pp. iio- 

the Sea Dyaks of Borneo (London, 112. 


despair and hanged herself on a tree beside her dead father, but not 
until she had prayed that, unless the Athenians should avenge her 
sire's murder, their daughters might die the same death as she. 
Her curse was fulfilled, for soon many Athenian damsels hanged 
themselves for no obvious reason. An oracle informed the 
Athenians of the true cause of this epidemic of suicide ; so they 
sought out the bodies of the unhappy pair and instituted the 
swinging festival to appease Erigone ; and at the vintage they 
offered the first of the grapes to her and her father.^ 
Swinging Thus the swinging festival at Athens was regarded by the 

of expia^^ ancients as an expiation for a suicide or suicides by hanging. This 
tion and opinion is strongly confirmed by a statement of Varro, that it was 
purification, unlawful to perform funeral rites in honour of persons who had died 
by hanging, but that in their case such rites were replaced by a 
custom of swinging images, as if in imitation of the death they had 
died.^ Servius says that the Athenians, failing to find the bodies 
of Icarius and Erigone on earth, made a pretence of seeking them 
in the air by swinging on ropes hung from trees ; and he seems to 
have regarded the custom of swinging as a purification by means of 
air.^ This explanation probably comes very near the truth ; indeed 
if we substitute " souls " for " bodies " in the wording of it we may 
almost accept it as exact. It might be thought that the souls of 
persons who had died by hanging were, more than the souls of the 
other dead, hovering in the air, since their bodies were suspended 
in air at the moment of death. Hence it would be considered 
needful to purge the air of these vagrant spirits, and this might be 
done by swinging persons or things to and fro, in order that by 
their impact they might disperse and drive away the baleful ghosts. 
Thus the custom would be exactly analogous, on the one hand, to 
the practice of the Malay medicine-man, who swings to and fro in 
front of the patient's house in order to chase away the disease, or to 
frighten away evil spirits, or to catch the stray soul of the sick man, 
and, on the other hand, to the practice of the Central Australian 

' Hyginus,^rf?-a«oOT«Va, ii. 4, pp. 34 p. 280). As to the swinging festival 

sqq., ed. Bunte ; id., Fabulae, 130; at Athens see O. Jahn, Archdologische 

Servius and Probus on Virgil, Georg. Beitrdge, pp. 324 sq. ; Daremberg et 

ii. 389 ; Festus, s.v. " Oscillantes," p. Saglio, Dictionnaire des antiquitis 

194, ed. C. O. Muller ; Athenaeus, grecques et romaines, s.v. "Aiora"; 

xiv. 10, p. 618 E f; Pollux, iv. 55 ; Miss J. E. Harrison, in Mythology and 

Hesychius, s.vv. 'AKtjtis and Aldipa; Monuments 0/ Ancient Athens, hy Mrs. 

Etymologicum magnum, s.v. ASdpa, Verrall and Miss J. E. Harrison, pp. 

p. 42. 3 ; Schol. on Homer, Ih'ad, xxii. xxxix sqq. 

29. The story of the murder of Icarius ^ Servius on Virgil, Aen. xii. 603: 

is told by a scholiast on Lucian {Vial. " Et Varro ait: Suspendiosis quibus 

meretr. vii. 4) to explain the origin of iusta fieri ius non sit, suspensis oscillis 

aiiSeieni {esiiva.\(Jiheinisches Museum, velutiperimitationemviortisparentari." 
N.F., XXV. (1870) pp. 557 sqq. ; 3 Servius on Virgil, Georg. ii. 389; 

Scholia in Lucianum, ed. H. Rabe, id., on Aen. vi. 741. 


aborigines who beat the air with their weapons and hands in order 
to drive the lingering ghost away to the grave.^ At Rome swinging 
seems to have formed part of the great Latin festival {Feriae Latinae), 
and its origin was traced to a search in the air for the body or 
even the soul of King Latinus, who had disappeared from earth 
after the battle with Mezentius, King of Caere. ^ 

Yet on the other hand there are circumstances which point to Swinging 
an intimate association, both at Athens and Rome, of these swinging '° promote 
festivals with an intention of promoting the growth of cultivated of^pSnts. 
plants. Such circumstances are the legendary connexion of the 
Athenian festival with Bacchus, the custom of offering the first- 
fruits of the vintage to Erigone and Icarius,^ and at Rome the 
practice of hanging masks on trees at the time of sowing * and in 
order to make the grapes grow better.^ Perhaps we can reconcile 
the two apparently discrepant effects attributed to swinging as a 
means of expiation on the one side and of fertilisation on the other, 
by supposing that in both cases the intention is to clear the air of 
dangerous influences, whether these are ghosts of the unburied dead 
or spiritual powers inimical to the growth of plants. Independent 
of both appears to be the notion that the higher you swing the 
higher will grow the crops.' This last is homoeopathic or imitative 
magic pure and simple, without any admixture of the ideas of 
purification or expiation. 

In modern Greece and Italy the custom of swinging as a festal Swinging 
rite, whatever its origin may be, is still observed in some places. ^ a festal 
At the small village of Koukoura in Elis an English traveller modem 
observed peasants swinging from a tree in honour of St. George, Greece and 
whose festival it was.'^ On the Tuesday after Easter the maidens ^'^^y- 
of Seriphos play their favourite game of the swing. They hang a 
rope from one wall to another of the steep, narrow, filthy street, 
and putting some clothes on it swing one after the other, singing as 
they swing. Young men who try to pass are called upon to pay 
toll in the shape of a penny, a song, and a swing. The words 
which the youth sings are generally these : " The gold is swung, the 
silver is swung, and swung too is my love with the golden hair " ; to 

1 Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes cence of the fact that, the bodies of 
of Central Australia, pp. 505 sq. Latinus and Aeneas being undiscover- 

2 Festus, s.v. " Oscillantes," p. 194, able, their animae were sought in the 
ed. C. O. Muller. This festival and its air " (G. E. M. Marindin, s.v. 
origin are also alluded to in a passage "Oscilla," W. Smith's Dictionary of 
of one of the manuscripts of Servius Greek and Roman Antiquities,^ ii. 
(on Virgil, Georg. ii. 389), which is 304). 

printed by Lion in his edition of ' Hyginus, Fab. 130. 

Servius (vol. ii. 254, note), but not * Probus on Virgil, Georg. ii. 385. 

by Thilo and Hagen in their large ^ Virgil, Georg. ii. 388 sqq. 

critical edition of the old Virgilian ' See above, p. 157, 

commentator. "\aSchol. Bob.'^. l^t ' W. G. Clark, Peloponnesus 

we are told that there was a reminis- (London, 1858), p. 274. 


which the girl replies, " Who is it that swings me that I may gild 
him with my favour, that I may work him a fez all covered with 
pearls ? " ^ In the Greek island of Karpathos the villagers assemble 
at a given place on each of the four Sundays before Easter, a swing 
is erected, and the women swing one after the other, singing death 
wails such as they chant round the mimic tombs in church on the 
night of Good Friday. 2 On Christmas Day peasant girls in some 
villages of Calabria fasten ropes to iron rings in the ceiling and 
swing on them, while they sing certain songs prescribed by custom 
for the occasion. The practice is regarded not merely as an amuse- 
ment but also as an act of devotion.^ " It is a custom in Cadiz, 
when Christmas comes, to fasten swings in the courtyards of houses, 
and even in the houses themselves when there is no room for them 
outside. In the evenings lads and lasses assemble round the swings 
and pass the time happily in swinging amid joyous songs and cries. 
The swings are taken down when Carnival is come."* The 
observance of the custom at Christmas, that is, at the winter solstice, 
suggests that in Calabria and Spain, as in Esthonia, the pastime may 
originally have been a magical rite designed to assist the sun in 
climbing the steep ascent to the top of the summer sky. If this were 
so, we might surmise that the gold and the golden hair mentioned 
by youths and maidens of Seriphos as they swing refer to "the 
golden swing in the sky," in other words to the sun whose golden 
lamp swings daily across the blue vault of heaven. 
Swinging However that may be, it would seem that festivals of swinging are 

especially held in spring. This is true, for example, of North Africa, 
where such festivals are common. At some places in that part of 
the world the date of the swinging is the time of the apricots ; at 
others it is said to be the spring equinox. In some places the festival 
lasts three days, and fathers who have had children born to them 
within the year bring them and swing them in the swings.^ In Corea 
"the fifth day of the fifth moon is called Tano-naL Ancestors are 
then worshipped, and swings are put up in the yards of most houses 
for the amusement of the people. The women on this day may go 
about the streets ; during the rest of the year they may go out only 
after dark. Dressed in their prettiest clothes, they visit the various 
houses and amuse themselves swinging. The swing is said to convey 
the idea of keeping cool in the approaching summer. It is one of 

1 J. T. Bent, The Cyclades (London, the custom is observed on Ascension 
1885), p. 5. Day instead of at Christmas. 

2 J. T. Bent, quoted by Miss J. E. * 'SeMii, Los Majosde Cadiz, e.yAx&A 
Harrison, Mythology and Monuments sent to me in the original Spanish by 
of Ancient Athens, p. xHii. Mr. W. Moss, of 2 1 Abbey Grove, 

^ Vincenzo Dorsa, La Tradizione Bolton, March 23rd, 1907. 
greco-latina negli usi e nelle credenze ^ E. Doutte, Magie et religion dans 

popolari delta Calabria Citeriore FAfrique du nord (Algiers, 1 908), pp. 

(Cosenza, 1884), p. 36. In one village 580 j^. 

at festivals 
in spring. 


the most popular feasts of the year." ^ Perhaps the reason here 
assigned for swinging may explain other instances of the custom ; 
on the principles of homoeopathic magic the swinging may be 
regarded as a means of ensuring a succession of cool refreshing 
breezes during the oppressive heat of the ensuing summer. 

1 W. W. Rockhill, "Notes on some stitions of Korea," American Anthro- 
of the Laws, Customs, and Super- pologist, iv. (1891) pp. 185 sq. 


P. 104. The sacred precinct of Pelops at Olympia. — It deserves 
to be noted that just as Pelops, whose legend reflects the origin of 
the chariot-race, had his sacred precinct and probably his tomb at 
Olympia, in like manner Endymion, whose legend reflects the origin 
of the foot-race,^ had his tomb at the end of the Olympic stadium, 
at the point where the runners started in the race.^ This presence 
at Olympia of the graves of the two early kings, whose names are 
associated with the origin of the foot-race and of the chariot-race 
respectively, can hardly be without significance; it indicates the 
important part played by the dead in the foundation of the 
Olympic games. 

P. 188. A man is literally reborn in the person of his son. — 
This belief in the possible rebirth of the parent in the child may 
sometimes explain the seemingly widespread dislike of people to 
have children like themselves. Examples of such a dislike have 
met us in a former part of this work.' A similar superstition 
prevails among the Papuans of Doreh Bay in Dutch New Guinea. 
When a son resembles his father or a daughter resembles her mother 
closely in features, these savages fear that the father or mother 
will soon die.* Again, in the island of Savou, to the south-west of 
Timor, if a child at birth is thought to be like its father or mother, 
it may not remain under the parental roof, else the person whom it 
resembles would soon die.^ Such superstitions, it is obvious, might 
readily suggest the expedient of killing the child in order to save the 
life of the parent. 

' Pausanias, v. I. 4. schrift voor Indische Taal- Land- en 

2 Pausanias, vi. 20. 9. Volkenkunde, xliii. (1901) p. 566. 

3 Taboo and the Perils of the Soul, ^ J. H. Letteboer, " Eenige aanteek- 
pp. 88 sq. eningen omtrent de gebruiken bij 

* J. L. van Hasselt, "Aanteeken- zwangerschap en geboorte onder de 

ingen aangaande de gewoonten der Savuneezen," Mededeelingen van wege 

Papoeas in de Dorebaai, ten opzichte het Nederlandsche Zendelinggenoot- 

van zwangerschap en geboorte," Tijd- schap, xlvi. (1902) p. 45. 



Ababua, the, 65 

Abbas, the Great, 157 

Abchases, their memorial feasts, 98, 103 

Abdication, annual, of kings, 14S ; of 

father when his son is grown up, 181 ; 

of the king on the birth of a son, igo 
Abeokuta, the Alake of, 203 
Abipones, the, 63 
Abraham, his attempted sacrifice of 

Isaac, 177 
Abruzzi, the, 66, 67 ; burning an effigy 

of the Carnival in the, 224 ■ Lenten 

custom in the, 244 sg. 
Abstract notions, the personification of, 

not primitive, 253 
Academy at Athens, funeral games held 

in the, 96 
Acaill, Book of, 39 
Accession of a Shilluk king, ceremonies 

at the, 23 s^. 
Acropolis at Athens, the sacred serpent 

on the, 86 j^. 
Adonis or Tammuz, 7 
Aesculapius restores Hippolytus or Vir- 

bius to life, 214 
Africa, succession to the soul in, 200 sf, 

North, festivals of swinging in, 284 

Agathocles, his siege of Carthage, 167 

Agrigentum, Phalaris of, 75 

Agrionia, a festival, 163 

Agylla, funeral games at, 95 

Ahaz, King, his sacrifice of his children, 

169 s^. 
Akurwa, 19, 23, 24 
Alake, the, of Abeokuta, custom of 

cutting off the head of his corpse, 203 
Alban kings, 76 
Albania, expulsion of Kore on Easter 

Eve in, 265 
Alcibiades of Apamea, his vision of the 

Holy Ghost, $ n.^ 
Alexander the Great, funeral games in 

his honour, 95 
Algonkin women, their attempts to be 
impregnated by the souls of the dying, 

PT. Ill 2 

Altdorf and Weingarten, Ash Wednes- 
day at, 232 
AIus, sanctuary of Laphystian Zeus at, 

i6r, 164 
Amasis, king of Egypt, 217 
Amelioration in the character of the gods, 

American Indians, their Great Spirit, 3 
Andaman Islanders, their ideas as to 

shooting stars, 60 
Angamis, the, 13 
Angel of Death, 177 sg. 
Angola, the Matiamvo of, 35 
Angoni, the, of British Central Africa, 

156 K.2 
Angoy, king of, 39 
Anhouri, Egyptian god, 5 
Animals sacred to kings, 82, 84 sgj. ; 

transformations into, 82 sg^. 
Annam, natives of, their indifference to 

death, 136 sg. 
Annual abdication of kings, 148 
renewal of king's power at Babylon, 


tenure of the kingship, 113 sjg. 

Antichrist, expected reign of, 44 sg. 

Aphrodite, the grave of, 4 

Apollo, buried at Delphi, 4 ; servitude 

of, 70 «.', 78 ; and the laurel, 78 sgg. ; 

as slayer of the dragon at Delphi, 78, 

79, 80 sj, ; at Thebes, 79 ; purged 

of the dragon's blood in the Vale of 

Tempe, 81 
Ardennes, effigies of Carnival burned in 

the, 226 sg. 
Ares, the grave of 4 
Ariadne and Theseus, 75 
Ariadne's Dance, 77 
Arician grove, ritual of the, 213 
Arizona, mock human sacrifices in, 215 
Arnold, Matthew, on the English middle 

class, 146 
Artemis, Munychian, sacrifice to, 166 n. ' ; 

mock human sacrifice in the ritual of, 

21S sg. 
Artemisia, wife of Mausolus, 95 



Ascanius, 76 

Ascension Day, 222 n.^ ; the " Carrying 

out of Death " on, at Braller, 247 sqq. 
Ash Wednesday, Burial of the Carnival 

on, 221 ; death of Caramantran on, 

226 ; effigies of Carnival or of Shrove 

Tuesday burnt or buried on, 226, 

228 sqq. 
Asherim, sacred poles, 169 
Ass, son of a god in the form of an, 

124 sq. ; the crest or totem of a royal 

family, 132, 133 
•• Assegai, child of the," 183 
Asses and men, redemption of firstling, 

Assyrian eponymate, 116 sq. 
Astarte, the moon-goddess, 92 
Astronomical considerations determining 

the early Greek calendar, 68 sq. 
Athamas and his children, legend of, 

161 sqq. 
Athena, human sacrifices to, 166 m.^ 
Athenaeus, 143 

Athenian festival of swinging, 281 
Athens, funeral games at, 96 ; hand of 

suicide cut off at, 220 n. 
Attacks on kings permitted, 22, 48 sqq. 
Aun or On, king of Sweden, 57 ; sacri- 
fices his sons, 160 sq., 188 
Aurora Australis, fear entertained by the 

Kurnai of the, 267 n.^ 
Australia, custom of destroying firstborn 

children among the aborigines of, 

179 sq. ; magical rites for the revival 

of nature in Central, 270 
Australian aborigines, their ideas as to 

shooting stars, 60 sq. 

funeral custom, 92 

Avebury, Lord, 146 «.', 273 

Baal, Semitic, 75 ; human sacrifices to, 
Tbj sqq., 195 

Babylon, festival of Zagmuk at, no, 113 

Babylonian gods, mortality of the, 5 sq. 

legend of creation, no 

myth of Marduk and Tiamat, 105 

sq. , 107 sq. 

Bacchic frenzy, 164 

Baganda, the, 11 

Ball, V. , 279 

Ballymote, the Book of, 100 

Balwe in Westphalia, Burying the Car- 
nival at, 232 

Banishment of homicide, 69 sq. 

Banna, a tribe accustomed to strangle 
their firstborn children, 181 sq. 

Barber, Rev. Dr. W. T. A. , 145 n. , 275 

Barcelona, ceremony of ' ' Sawing the 
Old Woman " at, 242 

Barongo, the, 10, 61 

Bashada, a tribe accustomed to strangle 
their firstborn children, 181 sq. 

Bashkirs, their horse-races at funerals, 97 
Bath of ox blood, 201 
Battle of Summer and Winter, 254 sqq. 
Bautz, Dr. Joseph, on hell fire, 136 n.^ 
Bavaria, Whitsuntide mummers in, 207 

sq. ; Carrying out Death in, 233 sqq. ; 

dramatic contests between Summer 

and Winter in, 255 sq. 
Bear, the soul of Typhon in the Great, 5 
Beast, the number of the, 44 
Beating cattle to make them fat or 

fruitful, 236 
Beauty and the Beast type of tale, 

125 sqq. 
Bedouins, annual festival of the Sinaitic, 


Behar, custom of swinging in, 279 

Beheading the King, a Whitsuntide 
pageant in Bohemia, 209 sq. 

Bengal, kings of, their rule of succes- 
sion, 51 

Bengkali, East Indian island, 277 

Benin, king of, represented with panther's 
whiskers, 85 sq. ; human sacrifices at 
the burial of a king of, 139 sq. 

Berosus, Babylonian historian, 113 

Berry, ceremony of ' ' Sawing the Old 
Woman" in, 241 sq. 

Bhagats, mock human sacrifices among 
the, 217 sq. 

Bhuiyas, the, of north-eastern India, 56 

Bilaspur, temporary rajah in, 154 

Birds of omen, stories of their origin, 
126, 127 sq. 

Black, Dr. J. Sutherland, 260 sq. 

Black bull sacrificed to the dead, 95 

ox, bath of blood of, 201 

ram sacrificed to Pelops, 92, 104 

Bland, J. O. P., 274 sq. 

Blemishes, bodily, a ground for putting 
kings to death, 36 sqq. 

Blood of victims in rain-making cere- 
monies, 20 ; bath of ox, 35 ; human, 
offered, to the dead, 92 sq., 104; of 
sacrifice splashed on door - posts, 
house-posts, etc., 175, 176 n.'^; of 
human victims smeared on faces of 
idols, 185 

Boemus, J. , 234 

Bohemia, Whitsuntide mummers in, 209 
sqq. ; "Carrying out Death" in, 
237 sq. 

Bones of sacrificial victim not broken, 20 

Bonfire, jumping over, 262 

Boni, in Celebes, 40 

Book of Acaill, 39 

Borans, their custom of sacrificing their 
children, 181 

Bororos, the, of Brazil, 62 

Bourges, ceremony of "Sawing the Old 
Woman " at, 242 

Bourke, Captain J. G. , 215 



Boxers at funerals, 97 

Brahmans, the ceremonial swinging of, 

150, 156 sq. 
Braller in Transylvania, 230 ; " Carrying 

out Death" at, 247 sqq. 
Brasidas, funeral games in his honour, 

Brazilian Indians, their indifference to 

death, 138 
Breezes, magical means of securing, 287 
Bridegroom of the May, 266 
Bringing in Summer, 233, 237, 238, 

246 sqq, 
Britomartis and Minos, 73 
Brittany, Burial of Shrove Tuesday or of 

the Carnival in, 229 sq. 
Brockelmann, C. , 116 
Bronze ploughs used by Etruscans at 

founding cities, 157 
Brother and sister marriages in royal 

families, 193 sq. 
Buddhist monks, suicide of, 42 sq. 
Budge, E. A. Wallis, 5 ».' 
Buginese of Celebes, their custom of 

swinging, 277 
Bull, Pasiphae and the, 71 ; as symbol 

of the sun, 71 sq. ; the brazen, of 

Phalaris, 75 ; said to have guided the 

Samnites, 186 n.^ 
and cow, represented by masked 

actors, 71 
Bull-headed image of the sun, 75, 76, 78 
Burgebrach in Bavaria, straw-man burnt 

on Ash Wednesday at, 232 
Biu-ial alive of the aged, t.i. sq. \ in jars, 

12 sq. ; of infants to secure rebirth, 

iggjy. ; of Shrove Tuesday, 228 
Burning an effigy of the Carnival, 223, 

224, 228 sq., 229 sq., 232 sq. 
effigies of Shrove Tuesday, 227 sqq. ; 

of Winter at Zurich, 260 sq. 
"Burying the Carnival," 209, 220 sqq. 
Busoga, mock human sacrifice in, 215 

Cabunian, Mount, 3 

Cadiz, custom of swinging at, 284 

Cadmea, the, 79 

Cadmus, servitude of, for the slaughter 

of the dragon, 70 «.^ 78 ; the slayer 

of the dragon at Thebes, ^^ sq. 
and Harmonia, their transformation 

into serpents, 84 ; marriage of, 88, 89 
Caffres, the, 65 
Caiem, the caliph, 8 
Calabria, ceremony of ' ' Sawing the Old 

Woman " in, 241 ; custom of swinging 

in, 284 
Calendar, the early Greek, determined 

by astronomical considerations, 68 sq. ; 

closely bound up with religion, 69 ; 

the Syro -Macedonian, ii5 
Calica Puran, an Indian law-book, 217 

Calicut, rule of succession observed by 
the kings of, 47 sqq., 206 

California, Indians of, 62 

Cambodia, Kings of Fire and Water in, 
14 ; annual abdication of the king of, 

Canaanites, their custom of burning their 
children in honour of Baal, 168 

Canada, Indians of, their ceremony for 
mitigating the cold of winter, 259 sq. 

Caramantran, death of, on Ash Wednes- 
day in Provence, 226 

Carinthia, ceremony at the installation 
of a prince of, 154 sq. 

Carman, the fair of, 100, loi 

Carnival, Burying the, 209, 220 sqq. ; 
swings taken down at, 287 

" Carnival (Shrovetide) Fool," 231 

Carolina, king's son wounded among the 
Indians of, 184 sq. 

Carrier Indians, succession to the soul 
among the, 199 

"Carrying out Death," 221, 233 sqq., 
246 sqq. 

Carthaginian sacrifice of children to 
Moloch, 75 ; to Baal, 167 sq. 

Cassange, in Angola, king of, 203 ; human 
sacrifice at installation of king of, 56 

Cassotis, oracular spring, 79 

Castaly, the oracular spring of, 79 

Catalonia, funeral of Carnival in, 225 

Cattle sacrificed instead of human beings, 
166 n.^ 

Caucasus, funeral games among the 
people of the, 97 sq. 

Cauxanas, Indian tribe of the Amazon, 
kill all their firstborn children, 185 sq. 

Cecrops, half-serpent, half-man, 86 sq. 

Celebes, sanctity of regalia in, 202 ; the 
Toboongkoos of, 219 

Celts of Gaul, their indifference to death, 
142 sq. 

Cemeteries, fairs held at, 101, 102 

Chaka, a Zulu tyrant, 36 sq. 

Chama, town on the Gold Coast, 129 

Chariot-race at Olympia, 91, 104 sq., 

races in honour of the dead , 93 

Chewsurs, their funeral games, 98 

Cheyne, Professor T. K. , 86 k.* 

Chilcotin Indians, their practice at an 
eclipse of the sun, 77 

" Child of the assegai," 183 

Children sacrificed to Moloch, 75 ; sacri- 
ficed by the Semites, 166 sqq. ; dislike 
of parents to have children like them- 
selves, 287 

Chinese indifference to death, 144 sqq., 
273 sqq. ; reports of custom of devour- 
ing firstborn children, 180 

Chiriguanos, the, of South America, 12 



Chirol, Valentine, 274 

Chitom^, a pontiff in Congo, the manner 

of his death, 14 sq. 
Christmas, custom of swinging at, 284 
Chrudim in Bohemia, effigy of Death 

burnt at, 239 
Chukchees, voluntary deaths among the, 

Circassia, games in honour of the dead 

in, 98 
Circumcision of father as a mode of 

redeeming his offspring, 181 : mimic 

rite of, 219 sq. 
Cities, Etruscan ceremony at the found- 
ing of, 157 
Cloud-dragon, myth of the, 107 
Cluis-Dessus and Cluis-Dessous, custom 

of " Sawing the Old Woman " at, 241 

Cnossus, Minos at, 70 sqq. ; the laby- 
rinth at, 75 sqq. 
Cobra, the crest of the Maharajah of 

Nagpur, 132 sq. 
Cock, king represented with the feathers 

of a, 85 
Colchis, Phrixus in, 162 
Congo, the pontiff Chitom^ in, 14 
Conjunction of sun and moon, a time 

for marriage, 73 
Consecration of firstlings, 172 
Contempt of death, 142 sqq. 
Contests, dramatic, between actors repre- 
senting Summer and Winter, 254 sqq. 
Conti, Nicolo, 54 
Conybeare, F. C. , s ".^ 
Cook, A. B. , 71 n."^, 78 k.^, 79 «■■', 80, 

81 n.^, 82 ns.'^ and *, 89 n.'°, 90 
Corannas of South Africa, custom as to 

succession among the, 191 sq. 
Corea, custom of swinging in, 284 sq. 
Cornaby, Rev. W. A., 273 
Cornford, F. M. , 91 k.' 
Corn-harvest, the first-fruits of the, 

offered at Lammas, loi sq. 
spirit called the Old Man or the 

Old Woman, 253 sq. 
Cornwall, temporary king in, 153 sq. 
Corporeal relics of dead kings confer 

right to throne, 202 sq. 
Courtiers required to imitate their 

sovereign, 39 sq. 
Cow as symbol of the moon, 71 sq. 
Crane, dance called the, 75 
Crassus, Publicius Licinius, 96 
Creation, myths of, 1.0^ sqq. ; Babylonian 

legend of, no 
Creator, the grave of the, 3 
Crete, grave of Zeus in, 3 
Criminals sacrificed, 195 
Crocodile clan, 31 
Cromm Cruach, a legendary Irish idol, 


Cronus buried in Sicily, 4 ; his sacrifice 
of his son, 166, 179 ; his treatment of 
his father and his children, 192 ; his 
marriage with his sister Rhea, 194 
Crooke, W. , 53 n.^, 157 n.^, 159 k.^ 
Crown of laurel, 78, 80 sqq. ; of oak 
leaves, 80 sqq. ; of olive at Olympia, 

Crowning, festival of thei, at Delphi, 78 

Cruachan, the fair of, loi 
Crystals, superstitions as to, 64 n.^ 
Cupid and Psyche, story of, 131 
Cutting or lacerating the body in honour 

of the dead, 92 sq., 97 
Cuttle-fish, expiation for killing a, 217 
Cychreus, king of Salamis, 87 
Cycle, the octennial, based on an attempt 

to reconcile solar and lunar time, 58 

Cyclopes, slaughter of the, 78 «.* 
Cytisorus, 162 
Czechs of Bohemia, 221 

Daedalus, 75 

Dahomey, royal family of, related to 

leopards, 85 ; religious massacres in, 

Daira or Mahadev Mohammedans in 

Mysore, 220 
Dalton, Colonel E. T., 217 
Danakils or Afar of East Africa, 200 
Dance of youths and maidens at Cnossus, 

75 ^H- i Ariadne's, "jj 
Dardistan , custom of swinging in, 279 
Darfur, Sultans of, 39 
Dassera festival of Nepaul, 277 
Daura, a Hausa kingdom, 35 ; custom 

of succession to the throne in, 201 
David, King, and the brazen serpent, 86 
Dead, souls of the, associated with faUing 

stars, 64 sqq. \ rebirth of the, 70 ; 

sacrifices to the, 92, 93, 94, 95, 97 ; 

human blood offered to the, 92 sq. , 

Dead kings, worship of, 24 sq. ; their 

spirits thought to possess sick people, 

25 sq. \ of Uganda consulted as oracles, 

200 sq. 
. ■ man's hand used in magical cere- 
mony, 267 «.^ 
One, the, name applied to the last 

sheaf, 254 
Sunday, 239 ; the fourth Sunday in 

Lent, 221 ; also called Mid-Lent, 222 

Death of the Great Pan, 6 sq. 

preference for a violent, 9 sqq. ',. 

natural, regarded as a calamity, 11 
sq. ; European fear of, 135 sq., 146; 
indifference to, displayed by many 
races, 136 sqq. ; the Carrying out of. 



221, 233 sqq., 246 sqq. ; conception 

of, in relation to vegetation, 253 sq. ; 

in ttie corn, 254 ; and resurrection of 

Kostrubonko at Eastertide, 261 ; and 

revival of vegetation, 263 sq. 
Death, effigy of, feared and abhorred, 239 

sq. ; potency of life attributed to, 247 


the Angel of, 177 sq. 

De Barros, Portuguese historian, 51 
Deer, descent of Kalamants from a, 126 

sq. ; sacrificed instead of human beings, 

166 n.^ 
Delos, Theseus at, 75 
Delphi, tombs of Dionysus and Apollo 

at, 3 sq. ; festival of Crowning at, 78 

Dengdit, the Supreme Being of the 

Dinka, 30, 32 
Deputy, the expedient of dying by, 56, 

Dictynna and Minos, 73 
Dinka, the, of the White Nile, 28 sqq. \ 

totemism of the, 30 sq. 
Diomede, human sacrifices to, 166 «.' 
Dionysus, the tomb of, at Delphi, 3 ; 

human sacrifice consummated by a 

priest of, 163 ; boys sacrified to, 166 

Dislike of people to have children like 

themselves, 287 
Diurnal tenure of the kingship, 118 jy. 
Divine king, the killing of the, g sqq. 

kings of the Shilluk, 17 sqq. 

spirit incarnate in Shilluk kings, 

21, 26 sq. 
Dodge, Colonel R. I., 3 
Dog killed instead of king, 17 
Doreh Bay in New Guinea, 287 
Dorians, their superstition as to meteors, 


Dragon, drama of the slaughter of the, 
78 sqq., 89 ; myth of the, 105 sqq. 

Dragon-crest of kings, 105 

Dramatic contests of actors representing 
Summer and Winter, 254 sqq. 

Dreams, revelations in, 25 

Drenching leaf-clad mummer as a rain- 
charm, 211 

Driver, Professor S. R. , 170 n.^, 173 «.* 

Ducks and ptarmigan, dramatic contest 
of the, 259 

Dyak medicine- men, their practice of 
swinging, 280 sq. 

Dyaks of Sarawak, story of their descent 
from a fish, 126; sacrifice cattle instead 
of human beings, 166 k.^ ; their sacri- 
fices during an epidemic, 176 w.^ ; 
their custom of swinging, 277 

Dying, custom of catching the souls of 
the, 198 sqq. 

Dying by deputy, 56, 160 

Eames, W. , 273 

Ears of sacrificial victims cut off, 97 

Easter, first Sunday after, 249 ; swing- 
ing on the Tuesday after, 283 ; custom 
of swinging on the four Sundays 
before, 284 

Easter Eve in Albania, expulsion of 
Kore on, 265 

Eastertide, death and resurrection of 
Kostrubonko at, 261 

Eating the bodies of aged relations, 
custom of, 14 

Echinadian Islands, 6 

Eclipse of the sun and moon, belief of 
the Tahitians as to, 73 n.'^ ; practice 
of the Chilcotin Indians at an, 77 

EcUptic perhaps mimicked in dances, 

Effigies of Carnival, 222 sqq. ; of Shrove 
Tuesday, 227 sqq. ; of Death, 233 
sqq., 246 sqq. ; seven-legged, of Lent 
in Spain and Italy, 244 sq. ; of Winter 
burnt at Zurich, 260 sq. ; of Kupalo, 
Kostroma, and Yarilo in Russia, 
262 sq. 

Effigy, human sacrifices carried out in, 
217 sqq. 

Egbas, the, 41 

Egypt, temporary kings in Upper, 151 
sq. ; mock human sacrifices in ancient, 

Egyptian gods, mortality of the ancient, 
4 sqq. ; influence on Christian doctrine 
of the Trinity, 5 n.^ ', kings called 
bulls, 72 ; trinities of gods, 5 n.^ 

Eimine Ban, an Irish abbot, 159 k.i 

Eldest sons sacrificed for their fathers, 
161 sqq. 

Elliot, R. H., 136 

Emain, fair at, 100 

Embalming as a means of prolonging 
the life of the soul, 4 

Encheleans, the, 84 

Endymion at Olympia, 90 ; his tomb at 
Olympia, 287 

English middle class, their clinging to 
life, 146 

'Epy^w/jos pa<rl\eve, 70 n.^ 

Eponymate, the Assyrian, 116 sq. 

Eponymous magistrates, 117 n.^ 

Equinox, the spring, custom of swinging 
at, 284 ; drama of Summer and Winter 
at the spring, 257 

Erechtheum, the, 87 

Erechtheus or Erichthonius in relation 
to the sacred serpent on the Acropolis, 
86 sq. ; voluntary death of the 
daughters of, 192 n.^ 

Ergamenes, king of Meroe, 15 

Erichthonius, 86. See Erechtheus 

Erigone, her suicide by hanging, 281 



Erzgebirge, Shrovetide custom in the, 

208 sq. 
Esagil, temple of Marduk at Babylon, 

Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, 116 
Esquimaux, suicide among the, 43 ; 

their magical ceremony in autumn, 

Esthonian belief as to falUng stars, 66 

sq. ; celebration of St. John's Day, 

280 ; custom on Shrove Tuesday, 

233, 252 sq. 
Esthonians, their ideas of shooting stars, 

Ethiopia, kings of, chosen for their 

beauty, 38 sq. 
Ethiopian kings of Meroe put to death, 

Etruscan ceremony at founding cities, 

Euphorion of Chalcis, Greek author, 

143, 144 
Europa, her wanderings, 89 ; and Zeus, 

European beliefs as to shooting stars, 

66 sqq. \ fear of death, 135 sq., 146 
Evans, Sebastian, 122 re.^ 
Eve, Easter, in Albania, 265 
Eve of St. John (Midsummer Eve), 

Russian ceremony on, 262 
Ewe negroes, the, 61 
Expiation for killing sacred animals, 

216 sq. 
Eyeo, kings of, put to death, 40 sq. 
Ezekiel, on the sacrifice of the firstborn, 

171 sq. 
E-zida, the temple of Nabu, no 

Fairs of ancient Ireland, 99 sqq. 
Fashoda, the capital of the Shilluk 

kings, 18, 19, 21, 24 
Father god succeeded by his divine 

son, 5 
Fazoql or Fazolglou, kings of, put to 

death, 16 
Fear of death entertained by the Euro- 
pean races, 135 i?., 146 
" Feeding the dead," 102 
Feriae Latinae, 283 
Feronia, a Latin goddess, 186 n.^ 
Fertilising power ascribed to the effigy 

of Death, 250 sq. 
Festival of the Crowning at Delphi, 

78 sq. ; of the Laurel-bearing at 

Thebes, 78 sq.-, 88 sq. 
Festus, on "the Sacred Spring," 186 
Feuillet, Madame Octave, 228 sq. 
Fez, mock sultan in, 152 
Fighting the king, right of, 22 
Fiji, voluntary deaths in, 11 sq. ; custom 

of grave-diggers in, 156 n,'' ; 1-ule of 

succession in, 191 

Finger-joints, custom of sacrificing, 219; 

mock sacrifice of, ib. 
Fire, voluntary death by, 42 sqq.; and 

Water, kings of, in Cambodia, 14 
Firstborn, sacrifice of the, 171 sqq.; 

killed and eaten, 179 sq.; sacrificed 

among various races, 179 sqq. 
fruits offered to the dead, 102 ; 

of the corn offered at Lammas, loi 

sq. ; of the vintage offered to Icarius 

and Erigone, 283 
Firstlings, Hebrew sacrifice of, 172 sq.; 

Irish sacrifice of, 183 
Fish, descent of the Dyaks from a, 126 
Fison, Rev. Lorimer, 156 n.^ 
Five years, despotic power for period of, 

Fhght of the priestly king (Regifugium) 

at Rome, 213 
Florence, ceremony of " Sawing the 

Old Woman " at, 240 sq. 
Florida, sacrifice of firstborn male 

children by the Indians of, 184 
Fool, the Carnival, burial of, 231 sq. 
Foot, custom of standing on one, 149, 

150, iss, 156 

race at Olympia, 287 

Franche - Comt6, effigies of Shrove 

Tuesday destroyed in, 227 
Freycinet, L. de, 118 «.' 
Frosinone in Latium, burning an effigy 

of the Carnival at, 22 sq. 
Funeral of Kostroma, 261 sqq. 

games, 92 sqq. 

rites performed for a father in the 

fifth month of his wife's pregnancy, 

Futuna in the South Pacific, 97 

Gallon, Sir Francis, 146 n.^ 

Game of Troy, 76 sq. 

Games, funeral, 92 sqq. 

Gandharva-Sena, 124, 125 

Ganges, firstborn children sacrificed to 
the, 180 sq. 

Gazelle Peninsula in New Britain, 65 

Gelo, tyrant of Syracuse, 167 

Genesis, account of the creation in, 106 

Ghost, the Holy, regai'ded as female, 
5 «.3 

Ghosts propitiated with blood, 92 ; pro- 
pitiated with games, 96 ; anger of, 103 

Giles, Professor H. A. , 275 

Girls' race at Olympia, 91 

Gladiators at Roman funerals, 96 ; at 
Roman banquets, 143 

Goats sacrificed instead of human be- 
ings, 166 M.' 

Gobir, a Hausa kingdom, 35 

God, the killing and resurrection of a 
god in the hunting, pastoral, and 
agricultural stages of society, 221 



God's Mouth, 41 

Gods, mortality of the, i sqq.; created 
by man in his own likeness, 2 sq.; 
succeeded by their sons, 5 ; pro- 
gressive amelioration in the character 
of the, 136 

Golden apples of the Hesperides, 80 

fleece, ram with, 162 

swords, 75 

Goldmann, Dr. Emil, 155 n?- 

Goldziher, I. , 97 k. ' 

Gomes, E. H. , 176 k.^ 

Gonds, mock human sacrifices among 
the, 217 

Good Friday, 284 

Gore, Captain, 139 n?- 

Gospel to the Hebrews, the apocryphal, 
5 ^? 

Graal, History of the Holy, 120, 134 

Grape-cluster, Mother of the, 8 

Gray, Archdeacon J. H. , 145 

Great Pan, death of the, 6 j^. 

Spirit, the, of the American In- 
dians, 3 

year, the, 70 

Greece, human sacrifices in ancient, 161 
sqq. ; swinging as a festal rite in 
modern, 283 sq. 

Greek mode of reckoning intervals of 
time, 59 n.^ 

Greenlanders, their belief in the mor- 
tality of the gods, 3 

Grey hair a signal of death, 36 sq. 

hairs of kings, 100, 102, 103 

Grimm, J., 155 «.', 221, 240, 244 

Groot, Professor J. J. M. de, 180 «.', 

Grove, the Arician, 213 
Guatemala, catching the soul of the 

dying in, 199 
Guayana Indians, 12 
Gypsies, ceremony of ' ' Sawing the. Old 

Woman ' ' among the, 243 

Hair, grey, a signal of death, 36 sq. 
Halae in Attica, mock human sacrifice 

at, 215 
Hale, Horatio, quoted, 11 sq. 
Hamilton, Alexander, quoted, 48 
Hamilton's Account of the East Indies, 

Hammurabi, king of Babylon, no 
Hand of dead man in magical ceremony, 

267 n.^ ', of suicide cut off, 220 n. 
Hanging of an effigy of the Carnival, 

230 sq. 
Harmonia and Cadmus, 84 ; marriage 

of, 88, 89 
Harvest ceremonies, 20, 25 
Harz Mountains, ceremony at Carnival 

in the, 233 
Hausa kings put to death, 35 


Hawaii, annual festival in, 117 sq. 
Hawk in Egypt, symbol of the sun and 

of the king, 112 
Heads of dead kings removed and kept, 

202 sq. 
Hebrew sacrifice of the firstborn, 

Hebrews, apocryphal Gospel to the, 

S »■* 
Heitsi-eibib, a Hottentot god, 3 
Heliogabalus, the emperor, 92 
Heliopolis, 5 ; the sacred bull of, 72 
Hell fire in Catholic and Protestant 

theology, 136 
Helle and Phrixus, the children of King 

Athamas, 161 sqq. 
Hephaestion, 95 
Hera, race of girls in honour of, at 

Olympia, 91 ; the sister of her hus- 
band Zeus, 194 
Heraclitus, on the souls of the dead, 12 
Hercules in the garden of the Hesperides, 

Hermapolis, 4 
Hermes, the grave of, 4 
Heruli, the, 14 
Hesperides, garden of the, 80 
Hieraconpolis, 112 
High History of the Holy Graal, 120, 

Hippodamia at Olympia, gi ; grave of 

the suitors of, 104 
Hippolytus or Virbius killed by horses, 

Hindoo belief as to shooting stars, 67 ; 

of the rebirth of a father in his son, 

Hinnom, the Valley of, 169, 170 
Hirpini, guided by a wolf [hirpus], 

186 n.^ 
Hodson, T. C. , 117 72.-^ 
Hoeck, K. , 73 n.^ 
Hofmayr, P. W., 18 «.', 19 h.^ 
Holm-oak, 81 sq. 
Holy Ghost, regarded as female, 5 «.' 

Saturday, 244 

Homeric age, funeral games in the, 93 
Homicide, banishment of, 69 sq. 
Homoeopathic or imitative magic, 283, 

Hooks, Indian custom of swinging on, 

278 sq. 
Horse-mackerel, descent of a totemic 

clan from a, 129 
-races in honour of the dead, 97, 

98, 99, loi : at fairs, 99 sqq. 
Horses, Hippolytus killed by, 214 
Horus, the soul of, in Orion, 5 
Hottentots, the mortal god of the, 3 
Howitt, A. W., 64 
Human flesh, transformation into animal 

shape through eating, 83 sq. 



Human sacrifices at Upsala, 58 ; in ancient 
Greece, 161 sqq. ; mock, 214 sqq. ; 
offered by ancestors of the European 
races, 214 ; to renew the sun's fire, 

Huntsman, the Spectral, 178 
Huron Indians, their burial of infants, 

Ibadan in West Africa, 203 

Ibn Batuta, 53 

Icarus or Icarius and his daughter 

Erigone, 281 sq., 283 
Ida, oracular- cave of Zeus on Mount, 70 
Ihering, R. von, 187 «.■* 
Ijebu tribe, 112 
Ilex or holm-oak, 81 sq. 
Immortality, belief of savages in their 
natural, i ; firm belief of the North 
American Indians in, 137 

Impregnation by the souls of the dying, 

Incarnation of divine spirit in Shilluk 
kings, 21, 26 sq. 

India, sacrifice of firstborn children in, 
180 sq. ; images of Siva and Parvatl 
married in, 265 sq. 

Indians of Arizona, mock human sacri- 
fice among the, 215 ; of Canada, their 
ceremony for mitigating the cold of 
winter, 259 sq. 

Indifference to death displayed by many 
races, 136 sqq. 

Indra and the dragon Vrtra, 106 sq. 

Infanticide among the Australian abori- 
gines, 187 n.^ \ sometimes suggested 
by a doctrine of transmigration or re- 
incarnation of human souls, -188 sq. ; 
prevalent in Polynesia, 191, 196 ; 
among savages, 196 sq. 

Infants, burial of, 199 

Ino and Melicertes, 162 

Intervals of time, Greek and Latin modes 
of reckoning, 59 n.^ 

Invocavit Sunday, 243 

Ireland, the great fairs of ancient, 99 

Irish sacrifice of firstlings, 183 

Iron-Beard, Dr., a Whitsuntide mum- 
mer, 208, 212, 233 

Isaac about to be sacrificed by his father 
Abraham, 177 

Isaacs, Nathaniel, 36 sq. 

Isis, the soul of, in Sirius, 5 

Isle of Man, May Day in the, 258 

Isocrates, 95 

Israelites, their custom of burning their 
children in honour of Baal, 168 sqq. 

Isthmian games instituted in honour of 
Melicertes, 93, 103 

Italy, seven-legged effigies of Lent in, 
244 sq. 

Jack o' Lent, 230 

Jagas, a tribe of Angola, their custom of 

infanticide, 196 sq. 
Jaintias of Assam, 55 
Jambi in Sumatra, temporary kings in, 

Japan, mock human sacrifices in, 218 
Jars, burial in, 12 sq. 
Java, Sultans of, 53 
Jawbone of king preserved, 200 sq. 
Jeoud, the only-begotten son of Cronus, 

sacrificed by his father, 166 
Jerome, on Tophet, 170 
"Jerusalem, the Road of," 76 
Jerusalem, sacrifice of children at, 169 
Jinn, death of the King of the, 8 
Jordanus, Friar, S4 
Joyce, P. W. , 100 n.^, loi 
Judah, kings of, their custom of burning 

their children, 169 
Jukos, kings of the, put to death, 34 
Jumping over a bonfire, 262 
June, the twenty-ninth of, St. Peter's 

Day, 262 
Jtlok, the great god of the Shilluk, 18 
Jupiter, period of revolution of the 

planet, 49 
Justin, 187 it.^ 

Kaitish, the, 60 

Kalamantans, their descent from a deer, 
126 sq. 

Kali, Indian goddess, 123 

Kamants, a Jewish tribe, 12 

Kanagra district of India, 265 

Karpathos, custom of swinging in the 
island of, 284 

Katsina, a Hausa kingdom, 35 

Kayans of Borneo, mock human sacri- 
fices among the, 218 

Keonjhur, ceremony at installation of 
Rfijah of, 56 

Kerre, a tribe accustomed to strangle 
their firstborn children, 181 sq. 

Khlysti, the, a Russian sect, ig6 n."^ 

Khonds of India, their human sacrifices, 

Kibanga, kings of, put to death, 34 
Killer of the Elephant, 35 
Killing the divine king, g sqq. 
of the tree-spirit, 205 sqq. ; a means 

to promote the growth of vegetation, 

211 sq. 
a god, in the hunting, pastoral, 

and agricultural stages of society, 

King, the killing oi the divine, 8 sqq. \ 

slaying of the, in legend, 120 sqq. ; 

responsible for the weather and crops, 

165 : abdicates on the birth of a son, 

190 ; at Whitsuntide, pretence of 

beheading the, 209 sq. 



King of the Jinn, death of the, 8 

of the Wood at Nemi, 28, 205 sq. , 

212 sqq. 

and Queen of May, marriage of, 

King Hop, 149, 151 
King's daughter offered as prize in a 
race, 104 

jawbone preserved, 200 sq. 

life sympathetically bound up with 

the prosperity of the country, 21, 27 

skull used as a drinking- vessel, 


son, sacrifice of the, 160 sqq. 

■ widow, succession to the throne 

through marriage with, 193 
Kingdom, the prize of a race, 103 sqq. 

See also Succession 
Kings, divine, of the Shilluk, 17 sqq. \ 
regarded as incarnations of a divine 
spirit, 21, 26 sq. ; attacks on, per- 
mitted, 22, 48 sqq. ; worship of dead, 
24 sq. ; killed at the end of a fixed 
term, 46 sqq. ; related to sacred 
animals, 82, 84 sqq. ; personating 
dragons or serpents, 82 ; addressed 
by names of animals, 86 ; with a 
dragon or serpent crest, 105 ; the 
supply of, 134 sqq. ; temporary, 148 
sqq. : abdicate annually, 148 

• killed when their strength fails, 

14 sqq. 

of Dahomey and Benin represented 

partly in animal shapes, 85 sq. 

of Fire and Water, 14 

of Uganda, dead, consulted as 

oracles, 200 sq. 
Kingship, octennial tenure of the, 58 
sqq. ; triennial tenure of the, 112 sq. ; 
annual tenure of the, 113 sqq. ; 
diurnal tenure of the, 118 sq. ; burdens 
and restrictions attaching to the early, 
135 ; modern type of, different from 
the ancient, 135 
Kingsley, Mary H., 119 «.' 
Kingsmill Islanders, 64 
Kirghiz, games in honour of the dead 

among the, 97 
Kirwaido, ruler of the old Prussians, 

Koniggratz district of Bohemia, Whit- 
suntide custom in the, 209 sq. 

Kore expelled on Easter Eve in Albania, 

Koryaks, voluntary deaths among the, 

Kostroma, funeral of, 261 sqq. 

Kostrubonko, funeral of, 261 

Krapf, Dr. J. L., 183 k.^ 

Krishna, Hindoo festival of swinging in 

honour of, 279 
Kupalo, funeral of, 261, 262 

Kurnai, their fear of the Aurora Aus- 

tralis, 267 ».' 
Kutonaqa Indians of British Columbia, 

their sacrifice of their firstborn children 

to the sun, 183 iy. 

La Rochelle, burning of Shrove Tuesday 

at, 230 
Labyrinth, the Cretan, 71, 74, 75, 76, 

Labyrinths in churches, 76 ; in the 

north of Europe, 76 sq. 
Lada, the funeral of, 261, 262 
Laevinus, M. Valerius, 96 
Laius and Oedipus, 193 
" Lame reign," 38 
Lammas, the first of August, 99, 100, 

loi, 105 
Lampson, M. W. , 146 «.', 273 
Lancelot constrained to be king, 120 sq.^ 

Lang, Andrew, 130 ra.^ 
Laodicea in Syria, human sacrifices at, 

166 n.^ 
Laos, a province of Siam, 97 
Laphystian Zeus, i5i, 162, 163, 164, 165 
Last sheaf called ' ' the Dead One, "254 
Latin festival, the great [Feriae Latinae), 

mode of reckoning intervals of time, 

59 «-^ 

Latins, sanctity of the woodpecker among 
the, 186 n.* 

Latinus, King, his disappearance, 283 

Laughlan Islanders, 63 

Laurel, sacred, guarded by a dragon, 
7g sq. ; chewed by priestess of Apollo, 

Laurel-Bearer at Thebes, 88 sq. 

Bearing Apollo, 79 n.^ 

bearing, festival of the, at Thebes, 

78 sq., 88 sq. 

wreath at Delphi and Thebes, 78 


Laws of Manu, 188 

Learchus, son of King Athamas, 161, 

Lechrain, Burial of the Carnival in, 231 

Leipsic, "Carrying out Death" at, 236 

Lengua Indians, 11 ; of the Gran Chaco, 
63 ; their practice of killing firstborn 
girls, 186 ; their custom of infanticide, 

Lent, the fourth Sunday in, called Dead 
Sunday or Mid-Lent, 221, 222 n.^, 
233 sqq. , 250, 25s ; personified by an 
actor or effigy, 226, 230 ; fifth Sunday 
in, 234, 239 ; third Sunday in, 238 ; 
Queen of, 244 ; symbolised by a seven- 
legged effigy, 244 sq. 

Leonidas, funeral games in his honour, 


Leopard Societies of Western Africa, 83 
Leopards related to royal family of 

Dahomey, 85 
Lepidus, Marcus Aemilius, 96 
Lepsius, R. , 17 «.^ 
Lerida in Catalonia, funeral of the 

Carnival at, 225 sq. 
Lerpiu, a spirit, 32 
Letts, celebration of the summer solstice 

among the, 280 
Leviathan, 106 n."^ 
Liebrecht, F. , 7 «.^ 
Life, human, valued more highly by 

Europeans than by many other races, 

13s -f?- 
Limti, the Assyrian eponymate, 117 
Lion, king represented with the body of 

a, 8s 
Lisiansky, U. , 117 sj. 
" Little Easter Sunday," 153, 154 «.' 
Logan, W. , 49 
Lolos, the, 65 
Lombardy, the Day of the Old Wives 

in, 241 
"Lord of the Heavenly Hosts," 149, 

150, 155, 156 
Lostwithiel in Cornwall, temporary king 

at, 153 sg. 
Lous, a Babylonian month, 113, 116 
Lucian, 42' 

Lug, legendary Irish hero, 99, loi 
Luguasad, the first of August, loi 
Lunar and solar time, attempts to har- 
monise, 68 sq. 
Luschan, F. von, 85 ».", 86 k.^ 
Lussac, Ash Wednesday at, 226 
Lycaeus, Mount, Zeus on, 70 ; human 

sacrifices on, 163 

Macahity, an annual festival in Hawaii, 

Macassars of Celebes, their custom of 

swinging, 277 
Macdonald, Rev. J., 183 n.^ 
Maceboard, the, in the Isle of Man, 

Macgregor, Sir William, 203 n.^ 
Macha, Queen, loo 
McLennan, J. F., 194 k.^ 
Magic, the Age of, 2 ; homoeopathic or 

imitative, 283, 285 
Magical ceremonies for the revival of 

nature in spring, 266 sqq. ; for the 

revival of nature in Central Australia, 

Maha Makham, the Great Sacrifice, 49 
Mairs, their custom of sacrificing their 

firstborn sons, 181 
Malabar, custom of Thalavettiparothiam 

in, 53 ; religious suicide in, 54 sq. 
Malayans, devil-dancers, practise a mock 

human sacrifice, 216 

Malays, their belief in the Spectral 

Huntsman, 178 
Malta, death of the Carnival in, 224 sq. 
Manasseh, King, his sacrifice of his 

children, 170 
Mandans, their notions as to the stars, 

67 J?. 
Man-god, reason for killing the, 9 sq. 
Mangaians, their preference for a violent 

death, 10 
Manipur, the Naga tribes of, 11 ; mode 

of counting the years in, 117 n.^ ; 

rajahs of, descended from a snake, 133 
Mannhardt, W. , 249 ».*, 253, 270 
Manu, Laws of, 188 
Maoris, the, 64 

Mara tribe of northern Australia, 60 
Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, 227 
Marduk, New Year festival of, no ; his 

image at Babylon, 113 

■ and Tiamat, 105 sq. , 107 sq. 

Mareielis at Zurich, 260 

Marena, Winter or Death, 262 

Marketa, the holy, 238 

Marriage, mythical and dramatic, of the 

Sun and Moon, 71, 73 sq., 78, 87 j^., 

92, 105 ; of brothers and sisters in 

royal families, 193 sq. 
Sacred, of king and queen, 71 ; of 

gods and goddesses, 73 ; of actors 

disguised as animals, 83 ; of Zeus and 

Hera, 91 
" Marriage Hollow" at Teltown, 99 
Martin, Father, quoted, 141 sq. 
Marzana, goddess of Death, 237 
Masai, the, 61, 65 ; their custom as to 

the skulls of dead chiefs, 202 sq. 
Masks hung on trees, 283 
Masquerades of kings and queens, 71 sq.^ 

88, 89 
Masson, Bishop, 137 
Mata, the small-pox goddess, sacrifice of 

children to, 181 
Matiamvo, a potentate in Angola, the 

manner of his death, 35 sq. 
Mausoleum at HaUcarnassus, 94 sq. 
Mausolus, contests of eloquence in his 

honour, 95 
May, the Queen of, in the Isle of Man, 

258 ; King and Queen of, 266 

Bride, 266 

Day in Sweden, 234 ; in the Isle 

of Man, 258 

tree, 246 ; horse-race to, 208 

trees, 251 sq. 

Mbaya Indians of South America, 140 ; 

their custom of infanticide, 197 
Medicine-men swinging as a mode of 

cure, 280 sq. 
Melicertes at the Isthmus of Corinth, 
93, 103 ; in Tenedos, human sacrifices 

to, 162 



Memphis, statues of Summer and Winter 

at, 259 K.i 
Men and asses, redemption of firstling, 

Mendes, mummy of Osiris at, 4 ; the 

ram -god of, 7 k.^ 
Menoeceus, his voluntary death, 192 n.^ 
Meriahs, human victims among the 

Khonds, 139 
Meroe, Ethiopian kings of, put to death, 

MeroUa, G. , quoted, 14 sq. 
Messiah, a pretended, 46 
Meteors, superstitions as to, 58 sqq. 
Metis, swallowed by her husband Zeus, 

Metsik, "wood-spirit," 233, z^z sq. 
Meyer, Professor Kuno, 159 m.' 
Micah, the prophet, on sacrifice, 171, 

Mid-Lent, the fourth Sunday in Lent, 

222 n.^ ; also called Dead Sunday, 

221 ; celebration of, 234, 236 sq. ; 

ceremony of " Sawing the Old Woman " 

at, 240 sqq. 
Midsummer Eve, Russian ceremony on, 

Mikados, human sacrifices formerly 

offered at the graves of the, 218 
Miltiades, funeral games in his honour, 

Minahassa, mock human sacrifices in, 

214 sq. 
Minorca, seven-legged images of Leijt 

in, 244 n.^ 
Minos, king of Cnossus, his reign of 

eight years, 70 sqq. \ tribute of youths 

and maidens sent to, 74 sqq. 

and Britomartis, 73 

Minotaur, legend of the, 71, 74, 75 
Minyas, king of Orchomenus, 164 
Mnevis, the sacred bull of Heliopolis, 72 
Moab, king of, sacrifices his son on the 

wall, 166, 179 
Mock human sacrifices, 214 sqq. ; sacri- 
fices of finger-joints, 219 

sultan in Morocco, 152 sq. 

Mohammedan belief as to falling stars, 

Moloch, sacrifice of children to, 75, 168 

Moon represented by a cow, 71 sq. ; 

myth of the setting and rising, 73 ; 

married to Endymion, 90 
and sun, mythical and dramatic 

marriage of the, 71, 73 sq., 78, Bj sq., 

92. loS 
Morasas, the, 219 
Moravia, "Carrying out Death" in, 

238 sq. , 249 
Morocco, annual temporary king in, 

152 sq. 

Mortality of the gods, i sqq. 

Moschus, 73 ?i.^ 

Moss, W. , 284 n.* 

Mother of the Grape-cluster, 8 

Moulton, Professor J. H., 124 n.^ 

Mounds, sepulchral, 93, 96, 100, 104 

Mulai Rasheed II., 153 

MuUer, K. O., 59, 69 «.i, 90, 165 !i.\ 

166 K.^ 

Mumbo Jumbos, 178 

Mummers, the Whitsuntide, 205 sqq. 

Murderers, their bodies destroyed, 11 

Mutch, Captain J. S., 259 k.i 

Mysore, mimic rite of circumcision in, 

Myths of creation, 106 sqq. 

Nabu, a Babylonian god, no 
Naga tribes of Manipur, 1 1 
Nagpur, the cobra the crest of the Maha- 
rajah of, 132 sq. 
Namaquas, the, 61 
Natural death regarded as a calamity> 

II sq, 
Nauroz and Eed festivals, 279 
Nemean games celebrated in honour of 

Opheltes, 93 
Nemi, priest of, 28, 212 sq., 220; King 

of the Wood at, 205 sq., 212 sqq. 
Nephele, wife of King Athamas, 161 
New Britain, 65 

Guinea, the Papuans of, 287 

Hebrides, burial alive in the, 12 

South Wales, sacrifice of firstborn 

children among the aborigines of, 

179 -f?- 
Ngarigo, the, of New South Wales, 60 
Ngoio, a province of Congo, 118 sq. 
Nias, custom of succession to the chief- 
tainship in, 198 sq. ; mock human 

sacrifices at funerals in, 216 
Nicobarese, their sham-fights to gratify 

the dead, 96 
Niederporing in Bavaria, Whitsuntide 

custom at, 206 sq. 
Niu^ or Savage Island, 219 
Nbldeke, Professor Th., 179 n.* 
Normandy, Burial of Shrove Tuesday in, 

Norsemen, their custom of wounding the 

dying, 13 sq. 
North Africa, festivals of swinging in, 

American Indians, their funeral 

celebrations, 97 ; their firm belief in 

immortality, 137 
Nyakang, founder of the dynasty of 

Shilluk kings, 18 sqq. 
Nyikpla or Nyigbla, a negro divinity, 61 

Oak, sacred, at Delphi, So sq. ; effigy of 
Death buried under an, 236 



Oak branches, Whitsuntide mummer 

swathed in, 207 

leaves, crown of, 80 sqq. 

Oath by the Styx, 70 n.'^ 

Octennial cycle based on an attempt to 

harmonise lunar and solar time, 68 sq. 

tenure of the kingship, 58 sqq. 

Odin, 13 ; legend of the deposition of, 

56 ; sacrifice of king's sons to, 57 ; 

human sacrifices to, 160 j^., 188 
Oedipus, legend of, 193 
Oenomaus at Olympia, 91 
Oesel, island of, 66 
Old Man, name of the corn-spirit, 253 


people killed, 11 sqq. 

Wives, the Day of the, 241 

Woman, Sawing the, a ceremony 

in Lent, 240 sqq. ; name applied to 

the corn-spirit, 253 sq. 
Oldenberg, Professor H. , 122 n."^ 
Oleae, the, at Orchomenus, 163, 164 
Olive crown at Olympia, gi 
Olympia, tombs of Pelops and Endymion 

at, 287 
Olympiads based on the octennial cycle, 

Olympic festival based on the octennial 

cycle, 89 sq. ; based on astronomical, 

not agricultural considerations, 105 
games said to have been founded 

in honour of Pelops, 92 

stadium, the, 287 

victors regarded as embodiments of 

Zeus, 90 sq. , or of the Sun and Moon, 

91, 105 
Omen-birds, stories of their origin, 126, 

127 sq. 
On or Aun, king of Sweden, 57, 160 sq.^ 

Opheltes at Nemea, 93 
Ophites, the, 5 «,"* 
Oracular springs, 79 sq. 
Orchomenus in Boeotia, human sacrifice 

at, 163 sq. 
Ordeal by poison, fatal effects of, 197 
Orestes, flight of, 213 
Origen, on the Holy Spirit, 5 n.'^ 
Orion the soul of Horus, 5 
Ororo, 24 

Osiris, the mummy of, 4 
Otho, suicide of the Emperor, 140 
Ox-blood, bath of, 201 
Oxen sacrificed instead of human beings, 

166 «.i 

Palermo, ceremony of " Sawing the Old 

Woman " at, 240 
Palm Sunday, ' ' Sawing the Old Woman ' ' 

on, 243 
Palodes, 6 
Pan, death of the Great, 6 sq. 

Panebian Libyans, their custom of cut- 
ting off the heads of their dead kings, 

Papuans, the, of Doreh Bay in New 

Guinea, 287 
Parker, Professor E. H., 146 «.' 
Parkinson, John, 112 sq. 
Parrots' eggs, a signal of death, 40 sq. 
Parsons, Harold G. , 203 n.^ 
Parthenon, eastern frieze of the, 89 n.^ 
Plrvati and Siva, marriage of the images 

of, 265 sq. 
Pasiphae identified with the moon, 72 

and the bull, 71 

" Pass through the fire," meaning of the 

phrase as applied to the sacrifice of 

children, 165 11.'^, 172 
Passier, kings of, put to death, 51 sq. 
Passover, tradition of the origin of the, 

174 sqq. 
Pau Pi, an effigy of the Carnival, 225 
Pausanias, King, funeral games in his 

honour, 94 
Payagua Indians, 12 
Payne, E. J., 69 n.^ 
Paxos, 6 

Peking Gazette, 274, 275 
Pelops worshipped at Olympia, 92, 104 ; 

sacred precinct of, 104, 287 

and Hippodamia at Olympia, 91 

Penance for the slaughter of the dragon, 

Peregrinus, his death by fire, 42 
Persia, temporary kings in, 157 sqq. 
Personification of abstract ideas not 

primitive, 253 
Peru, sacrifice of children among the 

Indians of, 185 
Perun, sacrifice of firstborn children to, 

Peruvian Indians, 63 n.^ 
Pfingstl, a Whitsuntide mummer, 206 

sq., 211 
Phalaris, the brazen bull of, 'jz^ 
Phaya Phollathep, ' ' Lord of the Heavenly 

Hosts," 149 
Pherecydes, 163 «.^ 
Philippine Islands, 3 
Philo Judaeus, his doctrine of the Trinity, 


of Byblus, 166, 179 

Phocaeans, dead, propitiated with games, 

Phoenicians, their custom of human 

sacrifice, x(A sq., 178, 179 
Phrixus and Helle, the children of King 

Athamas, 161 sqq. 
Piceni, guided by a woodpecker [picus), 

1S6 n.^ 
Pilsen district of Bohemia, Whitsuntide 

custom in the, 2ro sq. 
Pindar on the rebirth of the dead, 70 



Pitri, G. , 224 K.i 

Plataea, sacrifices and funeral games in 
honour of the slain at, 95 sq. 

Plato on, human sacrifices, 163 

Ploughing, annual ceremony of, per- 
formed by temporary king, 149, 155 

Ploughs, bronze, used by Etruscans at 

founding of cities, 157 
Plutarch, 163 ; on the death of the Great 

Pan, 6 ; on human sacrifices among 

the Carthaginians, 167 
Poison ordeal, fatal effects of the use of 

the, 197 
Polynesia, remarkable rule of succession 

in, 190 ; prevalence of infanticide in, 

191, 196 
Poplars burnt on Shrove Tuesday, 224 

Poseidon, identified with Erechtheus, 87 
Posidonius, ancient Greek traveller, 142 
Possession by spirits of dead kings, 25 sq. 
Preference for a violent death, 9 sqq. 
Pregnancy, funeral rites performed for a 

father in the fifth month of his wife's, 

Prince of Wales Islands, 64 
Procopius, 14 
Prussians, supreme ruler of the old, 41 

sq. ; custom of the old, 156 
Pruyssenaere, E. de, 30 n.^ 
Psoloeis, the, at Orchomenus, 163, 164 
Ptarmigans and ducks, dramatic contest 

of the, 259 
Puruha, a province of Quito, 185 
Pururavas and Urvasi, Indian story of, 

Pylos, burning the Carnival at, 232 sq. 
Pythagoras at Delphi, 4 
Pythian games, 80 sq. ; celebrated in 

honour of the Python, 93 

Queen of May in the Isle of Man, 259 ; 

married to the King of May, 266 

of Winter in the Isle of Man, 258 

Queensland, natives of, their superstitions 

as to falling stars, 60 
Quilicare, suicide of kings of, 46 sq. 
Quiteve, title of kings of Sofala, 37 sq. 

Race for the kingdom at Olympia, 90 
Races to determine the successor to the 

kingship, 103 sqq. 
Radica, a festival at the end of the 

Carnival at Frosinone, 222 
Rahab or Leviathan, 106 m.^ 
Rain-charms, 211 

clan, 31 

god, 61 

-makers among the Dinka, 32 sqq. 

making ceremonies, 20 

Rajah, temporary, 154 

Rali, the fair of, 265 

Ram with golden fleece, 162 

-god of Mendes, 7 «.' 

• sacrificed to Pelops, 92, 104 

Raratonga, custom of succession in, 191 
Rauchfiess, a Whitsuntide mummer, 

207 n.^ 
Rebirth of the dead, 70 ; of a father in 

his son, 188 sqq. ; of the parent in the 

child, 287 
Reckoning intervals of time, Greek and 

Latin modes of reckoning, 59 «.' 
Redemption of firstling men and asses, 


Regalia in Celebes, sanctity of, 202 

Regicide among the Slavs, 52 ; modified 
custom of, 148 

Regifugium, at Rome, 213 

Reinach, Salomon, 7 k.^ 

Reincarnation of human souls, belief in, 
a motive for infanticide, 188 sq. 

Religion, the Age of, 2 

Renewal, annual, of king's power at 
Babylon, 113 

Resurrection of the god, 212 ; of the 
tree-spirit, 212 ; of a god in the hunt- 
ing, pastoral, and agricultural stages 
of society, 221 ; enacted in Shrovetide 
or Lenten ceremonies, 233 ; of the 
efiigy of Death, 247 sqq. ; of the 
Carnival, 252 ; of the Wild Man, 252 ; 
of Kostrubonko at Eastertide, 261 

Retaliation in Southern India, law of, 
141 sq. 

Rhea and Cronus, 194 

Rhegium in Italy, 187 n.^ 

Rhodes, human sacrifices to Baal in, 195 

Rhys, Sir John, loi 

Rigveda, the, 279 

" Road of Jerusalem," 76 

Robinson, Captain W. C. , 139 k.' 

Rockhill, W. W., 284 j^. 

Roman custom of catching the souls of 
the dying, 200 ; of vowing a ' ' Sacred 
Spring," i85 sq. 

■ funeral customs, 92, 96 

game of Troy, 76 sq. 

indifference to death, 143 sq. 

Rome, funeral games at, 96 ; the Regi- 
fugium at, 213 

Rook, custom of killing all firstborn 
children in the island of, 180 

Roscher, W. H., 7 n.'^, 73 k.^ 

Roscoe, Rev. J., 139, 182 k.^, 201 n.^ 

Rose, H. A., 181 

Rose, the Sunday of the, 222 ra. ' 

Rottweil, the Carnival Fool at, 231 

Russia, funeral ceremonies of Kostru- 
bonko, etc., in, 261 sqq. 

Russians, religious suicides among the, 
44 sq. ; the heathen, their sacrifice of 
the firstborn children, 183 



Sacaea, a Babylonian festival, 113 sqq. 
Sacred Marriage of king and queen, 71 ; 

of actors disguised as animals, 71, 83 ; 

of gods and goddesses, 73 ; of Zeus 

and Hera, 91 

spears, 19, 20 

* ' Sacred spring, the," among the ancient 

Italian peoples, 186 sq. 
Sacrifice of the king's son, 160 sqq. ; of 

the firstborn, 171 sqq., 179 sqq. ; of 

finger-joints, 219 
Sacrifices for rain, 20 ; for the sick, 20, 

25 ; to totems, 31 ; to the dead, 92, 

93, 94, 95, 97 ; of children among the 

Semites, i65 sqq. 
human, in ancient Greece, 161 sqq. ; 

mock human, 214 sqq. 
vicariotis, 117 ; in ancient Greece, 

166 K.i 
St. George and the Dragon, 107 ; swing- 
ing on the festival of, 283 
St. John's Day (the summer solstice), 

swinging at, 280 

Eve, Russian ceremony on, 262 

Saint-L6, the burning of Shrove Tuesday 

at, 228 sq. 
St. Peter's Day, the twenty-ninth of June, 

SaintongeandAunis, burning the Carnival 

in, 230 
Sakalavas, sanctity of relics of dead kings 

among the, 202 
Salamis in Cyprus, human sacrifices at, 

Salih, a prophet, 97 

Salish Indians, their sacrifice of their 

firstborn children to the sun, 184 
Salmoneus, his imitation of thunder and 

lightning, 165 
Samaracand, New Year ceremony at, 

Samnites, guided by a bull, 186 «.■* 
Samoa, e.xpiation for disrespect to a 

sacred animal in, 216 sq. 
Samorin, title of the kings of Calicut, 

^7 sq. 
Samothracian mysteries, 89 
Santal custom of swinging on hooks, 

Santos, J. dos, 37 sq. 
Sarawak, Dyaks of, 277 
Saturday, Holy, 244 
Savage Island, mimic rite of circum- 
cision in, 219 sq. 
Savages beheve themselves naturally 

immortal, i 
Savou, island of, 287 
"Sawing the Old Woman," a Lenten 

ceremony, 240 sqq. 
Saws at Mid-Lent, 241, 242 
Saxon kings, their marriage with their 

stepmothers, 193 

Saxons of Transylvania, the hanging of 
an effigy of Carnival among the, 230 sq. 

Saxony, Whitsuntide mummers in, 208 

Scarii, 224 n.^ 

Schmidt, A. , S9 «-^ 

Schmiedel, Professor P. , 261 n.^ 

Schoolcraft, H. R., Z37 sq. 

Schbrzingen, the Carnival Fool at, 231 

Schwegler, F. C. A., 187 k.^ 

Sdach M^ac, title of annual temporary 
king of Cambodia, 148 

Sea Dyaks, their stories of the origin of 
omen birds, 126, 127 sq. 

Seligmann, C. G., 17, 2r, 22, 23, 26, 

30. 33 

Semang, the, 85 

Semic in Bohemia, beheading the king 
on Whit-Monday at, 209 

Seminoles of Florida, souls of the dying 
caught among the, 199 

Semites, sacrifices of children among the, 
166 sqq. 

Semitic Baal, 75 

Senjero, sacrifice of firstborn sons in, 
182 sq. 

Sepharvites, their sacrifices of children, 

Seriphos, custom of swinging in the 
island of, 283 sq. 

Serpent, the Brazen, 86 ; sacred, on the 
Acropolis at Athens, 86 ; or dragons 
personated by kings, 82 ; transmigra- 
tion of the souls of the dead into, 84 

Servitude for the slaughter of dragons, 
70, 78 

Servius, on the legend of Erigone, 282 

Seven youths and maidens, tribute of, 
74 sqq. 

legged effigy of Lent, 244 sq. 

Shadow Day, a gypsy name for Palm 
Sunday, 243 

. Queen, the, 243 

Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, 169, 170 

Sham fight, 24 

Shark, king of Dahomey represented 
with body of a, 85 

ShiUuk, a tribe of the White Nile, 17 
sqq. ; custom of putting to death the 
divine kings, 17 sqq. , 204, 206; cere- 
mony on the accession of a new king 
of the, 204 

Shirt worn by the effigy of Death, its 
use, 247, 249 

Shooting stars, superstitions as to, 58 

Shrines bf dead kings, 24 sq. 

Shrove Tuesday, Burial of the Carnival 
on, 221 sqq. ; mock death of, 227 sqq. ; 
drama of Summer and Winter on, 257 

Shrovetide custom in the Erzgebirge, 
208 sq. ; in Bohemia, 209 

Bear, the, 230 



Shurii - Kia - Miau, aboriginal tribe in 

China, 141; 
Siam, annual temporary kings in, 149 

Siamese, mock human sacrifices among 

the, 218 
Sick, sacrifices for the, 20, 25 ; thought 

to be possessed by the spirits of kings, 

25 jy. 
Silesia, "Carrying out Death" in, 236 

sq. , 250 sq. 
SIngalang Burong, the Ruler of the Spirit 

World, 127, 128 
Sioo or Siauw, mock human sacrifices in 

the island of, 218 
Sirius, the soul of Isis in, 5 
Sister, marriage with, in royal families, 

193 -f?- 
Siu, a SeaDyak, and his bird wife, 127 

Siva and Pelrvatl, marriage of the images 

of, 265 sq. 
Six hitndred and sixty-six, the number of 

the Beast, 44 
Skoptsi, a Russian sect, 196 n.^ 
Skull of dead king used as a drinking- 

vessel, 200 
Skulls of dead kings removed and kept, 

202 sq. 
Sky-spirit, sacrifice of children to, 181 
Slaughter of the Dragon, drama of the, 

at Delphi and Thebes, 78 sqq. , 89 ; 

myth of the, 105 sqq. 
Slavs, custom of regicide among the, 52 ; 

festival of the New Year among the 

old, 221 ; " Sawing the Old Woman " 

among the, 242 
Slaying of the king in legend, 120 sqq. 
Smith, W. Robertson, 8 n.^ 
Snake, rajahs of Manipur descended 

from a, 133 
Sofala, kings of, put to death, 37 sq. ; 

dead kings of, consulted as oracles, 

Solar and lunar time, early attempts to 

harmonise, 68 sq. 
Son of the king sacrificed for his father, 

160 sqq. 
Sons of gods, 5 
" Soranian Wolves," 186 k.* 
Soul, succession to the, 196 sqq. 
Souls of the dead supposed to resemble 

their bodies, as these were at the 

moment of death, 10 sq. ; associated 

vrith falling stars, 64 sqq. ; transmitted 

to successors, 198 
South American Indians, their insensi- 
bility to pain, 138 
Spain, seven-legged effigies of Lent in, 

Spartan kings liable to be deposed every 

eighth year, 58 sq. 

Spears, sacred, ig 

Spectral Huntsman, 178 

Spencer and Gillen, quoted, 180 n.', 
187 «.« 

Spirit, the Great, of the American In- 
dians, 3 

Spitting to avert demons, 63 

Spring equinox, custom of swinging at, 
284 ; drama of Summer and Winter 
at the, 257 

Spring, magical ceremonies for the re- 
vival of nature in, 266 sqq. 

" Spring, the Sacred," among the ancient 
Italian peoples, 186 sq. 

Springs, oracular, 78 sq. 

Stadium, the Olympic, 287 

Standing on one foot, custom of, 149, 
150, 155. 156 

Stars, the souls of Egyptian gods in, 5 ; 
shooting, superstitions as to, 58 sqq. ; 
their supposed influence on human 
destiny, 65 sq., 67 sq. 

Stepmother, marriage with a, 193 

Stevens, Captain John, his History of 
Persia quoted, 158 sq. 

Stigand, Captain C. H., 182 

Stool at installation of Shilluk kings, 24 

Students of Fez, their mock sultan, 1 52 j^. 

Styx, oath by the, 70 h.^ 

Substitutes, voluntary, for capital punish- 
ment in China, 145 sq., 273 sqq. 

Succession in Polynesia, customs of, 190 

to the kingdom through marriage 

with a sister or with the king's widow, 
193 sq. \ conferred by personal relics 
of dead kings, 202 sq. 

to the soul, 196 sqq. 

Sufi II., Shah of Persia, 158 

Suicide of Buddhist monks, 42 sq, ; 
epidemic of, in Russia, 44 sq. ; by 
hanging, 282 

, religious, 42 sqq., 54 sqq. ; in 

India, 54 sq. 

, hand of, cut off, 220 n. 

Sulka, the, of New Britain, 65 

" Sultan of the Scribes," 152 sq. 

Summer, bringing in, 233, 237, 238, 
246 sqq. 

and Winter, dramatic battle of, 

2S4 sq. 

solstice in connexion with the 

Olympic festival, 90 ; swinging at the, 

trees, 246, 251 sq. 

Sun represented by a bull, 71 sq. ; repre- 
sented as a man with a bull's head, 
75 ; eclipses of the, beliefs and prac- 
tices as to, 73 n.^, 77 ; sacrifice of 
firstborn children to the, 183 sq. ; 
called " the golden swing in the sky," 



San and Moon, mythical and dramatic 
marriage of, 71, t^ sq., 78, 87 sq., 
92, 105 

Sunday of the Rose, 222 n.^ 

Supply of kings, 134 sqq. 

Supreme Beings, otiose, in Africa, 19 n. 

Swabia, Whitsuntide mummers in, 207 ; 
Shrovetide or Lenten ceremonies in, 
230, 233 

Sweden, May Day in, 254 

Swedish kings, traces of nine years' reign 
of, 57 sq. 

Swing in the Sky, the Golden, descrip- 
tion of the sun, 279 

Swinging as a ceremony or magical rite, 
150, 156 sq., 277 sqq. ; on hooks run 
through the body, Indian custom, 
278 sq. ; as a mode of inspiration, 
280 ; as a festal rite in modern Greece, 
Spain, and Italy, 283 sq. 

Swords, golden, yc^ 

Syene, 144 k.^ 

Syntengs of Assam, 55 

Syro-Macedonian calendar, ii6 n.^ 

Tahiti, remarkable rule of succession in, 

Tahitians, their notions as to eclipses of 

the sun and moon, 73 n.^ 
Tailltiu or Tailltin, the fair of, 99, loi 
Takilis or Carrier Indians, succession to 

the soul among the, 199 
Talos, a bronze man, perhaps identical 

with the Minotaur, 74 sq. 
Tammuz or Adonis, 7 
Tara, pagan cemetery at, loi 
Tarahumares, the, of Mexico, 62 
Taui Islanders, 61 
Tchiglit Esquimaux, the, 65 
Tel-El- Am arna tablets, 170 n.^ 
Teltov/n, the fair at, 99 
Tempe, the Vale of, 81 
Temporary kings, 148 sqq. 
Tenedos, sacrifice of infants to Melicertes 

in, 162 
Tengaroeng in Borneo, swinging at, 280, 

Thalavettiparothiam, a custom observed 

in Malabar, 52 sq. 
Thamus, an Egyptian pilot, 6 
Thebes, festival of the Laurel -Bearing 

at, 78 sq., 88 sq. 
Theopompus, 95 
Theseus and Ariadne, 75 
Thiodolf, the poet, 161 
Thracians, funeral games held by the, 

96 ; their contempt of death, 142 
Throne, reverence for the, 51 
Thiiringen, Whitsuntide mummers in, 

208 ; Carrying out Death in, 235 sq. 
Tiamat and Marduk, 105 sq., 107 sq, 
Tiberius, his enquiries as to the death of 

Pan, 7 ; his attempt to put down Car- 
thaginian sacrifices of children, 168 

Tilton, E. L., 232 

Time, Greek and Latin modes of reckon- 
ing intervals of, 59 

Timoleon, funeral games in his honour, 

Tinneh Indians, the, 65, 278 
Tirunavayi temple, 49 
Tlachtga, pagan cemetery at, loi 
Toboongkoos, mock human sacrifices 

among the, 219 
Todtenstein, 264 
Tonquinese custom of catching the soul 

of the dying, 200 
Tooth of dead king kept, 203 
Tophet. 169, 170, 171 
Torres Straits, funeral custom in, 92 sq. 
Totemism of the Dinka, 30 sq. ; possible 

trace of Latin, 186 «.* ; the source of 

a particular type of folk-tales, 129 sqq. 
Totems, sacrifices to, 31 ; stories told to 

account for the origin of, 129 
Toumou, Egyptian god, 5 
Transformations into animals, 82 sqq. 
Transmigration of souls of the dead 

into serpents and other animals, 84 

sq. ; belief in, a motive for infanticide, 

188 sq. 
Transmission of soul to successor, 198 

Trasimene Lake, battle of, 186 
Tree-spirit, killing of the, 205 sqq. ; re- 
surrection of the, 212 ; in relation to 

vegetation-spirit, 253 
Trees, masks hung on, 283 
Trevelyan, G. M., 154 n.^ 
Tribute of youths and maidens, 74 sqq. 
Triennial tenure of the kingship, 112 sq. 
Trinity, Christian doctrine of the, 5 n.^ 
Trocadero Museum, statues of kings of 

Dahomey in the, 85 
Trojeburg, jj 

Trophonius at Lebadea, 166 n.^ 
Troy, the game of, 76 sq. 
Tshi-speaking negroes of the Gold Coast, 

their stories to explain their totemism, 

128 sq. 
Turrbal tribe of Queensland, 60 
Typhon, the soul of, in the Great Bear, 5 

Uganda, king of, 39 sq. ; human 
sacrifices in, 139 ; firstborn sons 
strangled in, 182 ; dead kings of, give 
oracles through inspired mediums, 
200 sq. 

Ujjain in Western India, 122 sqq., 132, 

Ulster, tombs of the kings of, loi 
Unyoro, kings of, put to death, 34 
Upsala, 161 ; sepulchral mound at, 57 ; 

great festival at, 58 



Uranus mutilated by his son Cronus, 192 
Urvasi and King Pururavas, Indian 

story of, 131 
Ushnagh, pagan cemetery at, loi 

Valhala, 13 

Varro on a Roman funeral custom, 92 ; 

on suicides by hanging, 282 
Vegetation, death and revival of, 263 


spirit perhaps -generalised from a 

tree-spirit, 253 
Vicarious sacrifices, 117 ; in ancient 

Greece, 166 n.^ 
Vikramaditya, legendary king of 

Ujjain, xzz sqq., 132 
Vintage, first-fruits of the, offered to 

Icarius and Erigone, 283 
Virbius or Hippolytus killed by horses, 

Virgil, on the game of Troy, 76 ; on 

the creation of the world, 108 sq. 
Vishnu, mock human sacrifice in the 

worship of, 216 
Volcano, sacrifice of child to, 218 
Vosges Mountains, superstition a" to 

shooting stars in the, 67 
Vrtra, the dragon, 106 sq. 

Wachtl in Moravia, drama of Summer 

and Winter at, 257 
Wadai, Sultan of, 39 
Wade, Sir Thomas, 273 sq. 
Waizganthos, an old Prussian god, 156 
Wak, a sky-spirit, 181 
Wambugwe, the, 65 
Water, effigies of Death thrown into the, 

234 ^ii- 1 245 ^1- 
-bird, a Whitsuntide mummer, 

207 n.^ 
dragon, drama of the slaying of, 

Weinhold, K., 57 n.^ 

Wends, their custom of killing and 

eating the old, 14 
Westermarck, Dr. E., 16 ».i, 153 «.^, 

189 K.^, 204 n.^ 
Wheat at Lammas, offerings of, loi 
Wheel, effigy of Death attached to a, 247 
Whiteway, R. S., 51 «.^ 
Whitsuntide, drama of Summer and 

Winter at, 257 

King, 209 sqq. 

Mummers, 205 sqq. 

Queen, 210 

Widow of king, succession to the throne 

through marriage with the, 193 
Wieland's House, 77 

Wild Man, a Whitsuntide mummer, 208 

sq., 212 
Winter, Queen of, in the Isle of Man, 

258 ; effigy of, burned at Zurich, 260 

■ — - and Summer, dramatic battle of, 

254 Hi- 
Wolf, transformation into, 83 ; said to 

have guided the Samnites, 186 n.* 

-god, Zeus as the, 83 

Wolves, Soranian, i85 n.^ 

Woman, Sawing the Old, a Lenten 

ceremony, 240 sqq. 
Wood, King of the, at Nemi, 28 
Woodpecker [picus) said to have guided 

the Piceni, i85 n.^ ; sacred among 

the Latins, ih. 
Worship of dead kings, 24 sq. 
Wotjobaluk, the, 64 
Wounding the dead or dying, custom of, 

13 H- 
Wrestling - matches in honour of the 

dead, 97 
Wurmlingen in Swabia, Whitsuntide 

custom at, 207 sq. ; the Carnival 

Fool at, 231 sq. 
Wyse, W. , 144 

Xeres, Fr. , early Spanish historian, 185 
Xerxes in Thessaly, 161, 163 
Ximanas, an Indian tribe of the Amazon, 
kill all their firstborn children, xZ$ sq. 

Yarilo, the funeral of, 261, 262 sq. 

Year, the Great, 70 

Years, mode of counting the, in Manipur, 

117 n?- 
Yerrunthally tribe of Queensland, 64 
Yorubas, the, 41, 112 
Youths and maidens, tribute of, sent to 

Minos, 74 sqq. 

Zagmuk, a Babylonian festival, no sq., 
113, IIS Hi- 

Zeus, the grave of, 3 ; oracular cave of, 
70 ; on Mount Lycaeus, 70 n.^\ his 
transformations into animals, 82 sq. ; 
the Wolf- god, 83 ; the Olympic 
victors regarded as embodiments of, 
90 sq. ; swallows his wife Metis, 192 ; 
his marriage with his sister Hera, 194 ; 
and Europa, 73 

and Hera, sacred marriage of, 91 

Laphystian, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165 

Zimmern, H. , in ».^ 

Zoganes at Babylon, 114 

Zulu kings put to death, 36 sq. 

Zurich, effigies of Winter burnt at, ztosq. 

Printed iSy R. & R. Clark, Limited, Edinburgh. 

Works by J. Q. FRAZER, D.C.L., LL.D., Litt.D. 


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